More power from waste
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Pune's large-scale non-incineration-based thermal gasification plant, at the other end, has been designed to generate 10 megawatt (MW) electricity. Based on public-private partnership and state-of-the-art technology for Indian conditions of mixed waste, this plant uses patented thermal gasification technology to generate electricity. As of now, the plant uses 70 tonne of mixed (unsegregated) waste per day and generates 1 MW of electricity on an hourly basis, which is sufficient to meet its own power needs. Once regulatory clearances from the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency arrive, the plant can generate the balance quantum of electricity, which can be evacuated to the grid.
There have also been advances in incineration technology, whereby a waste-to-energy plant in Kanpur (reported in an earlier column) has been set up to produce 15 MW of electricity using RDF produced in-house while meeting the pollution control standards of CPCB. This plant was in operation for a number of months, and the electricity generated was being evacuated to the grid. More recently, problems have arisen because of the inability to maintain the quality of RDF being used in the boiler. Then there is the waste-to-energy plant in Timarpur Okhla, which uses the mass-burning method of incineration using unsegregated waste as the fuel, and has caused a lot of controversy for the need for mitigation of emissions to the atmosphere.
It is clear that technology options for waste-to-energy are increasing and there will be teething problems. Appropriate incentives and regulatory frameworks can provide scope for experimentation and application of technology to find environment-friendly ways of converting waste to energy. The FM's proposed support for waste-to-energy helps generate a competitive and yet accountable environment for addressing this challenge. To quote what he said, "I propose to support municipalities that will implement waste-to-energy projects in PPP mode which would be neutral to different technologies... through different instruments such as viability gap funding, repayable grant and low-cost capital."
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