State-owned NTPC has invited bids for the procurement of biomass pellets which would be used to co-fire its thermal plants.
The pellets made out of stubble and husk would be utilised at its 17 thermal coal-fired power plants across the country as part of measures to reduce stubble burning.
In January, the power giant had announced that it would procure and use six million tonne (MT) of biomass pellets to co-fire its power plants along with coal. A company official had informed that a tonne of pellets costs around Rs 7,000.
In a statement issued on Sunday, NTPC Ltd said, "It has invited bids for procurement of biomass pellets for its various thermal plants on the basis of domestic competitive basis (DCB) as part of its endeavour to reduce burning of crop residue on farmlands that cause air pollution."
The power producer has envisaged consumption of 5 MT of pellet in the current year at its 17 power plants, including NTPC Korba (Chhattisgarh), NTPC Farakka (West Bengal), NTPC Dadri (Uttar Pradesh), NTPC Kudgi (Karnataka), NTPC Sipat (Chhattisgarh), and NTPC Rihand (Uttar Pradesh), it said.
The company has 24 coal-fired thermal power plants. In addition to this, the firm has nine more coal-fired power plants under joint ventures or of subsidiaries.
NTPC further said it had first undertaken the initiative on pilot basis in 2017 for biomass co-firing by replacing some of the coal with pellet based fuel at NTPC Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.
The test-firing was carried out in four phases, with gradual increase in percentage of firing from 2.5 percent to 10 percent along with coal. Till date, the company has fired more than 7,000 tonne of agro residue pellets.
Looking at its success, NTPC now plans to replicate the model in its 17 plants.
"The company is confident that co-firing will help create large scale rural employment opportunities in processing as well as supply chain for biomass. The power producer will give preference to bids from suppliers from Punjab and Haryana."
As per estimates, about 145 MTPA of crop residue remains unutilised and most of it is burnt in India in the open fields, creating severe air pollution that leads to health issues.
Open burning of agro residue is considered a major contributor to the surge in PM 2.5 in northern India in the post-harvesting season, NTPC said.