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Efficiency of India’s coal-based power plants way below global standards: Study

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New Delhi: Many of India’s coal-based power plants are way below global standards in terms of efficiency and several among them violate air pollution norms and are struggling to dispose fly ash generated by them, a study by a leading NGO working in the environment sector has claimed. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), in its two-year long study ‘Heat in Power’, analysed and rated 47 coal-based thermal power plants on nearly 60 environmental and energy parameters and found that the sector scores poorly overall.

The study claimed the average efficiency of the plants, it assessed, was 32.8 per cent, one of the lowest among major coal -based power producing countries. It claimed that average CO2 emission was 1.08 kg per kWh, 14 per cent higher than that of China. Among the top performing units, as per the study, were West Bengal based CESC-Budge Budge Generating Station, followed by JSEWL power station Toranagallu in Karnataka and Tata-Trombay Thermal Power station in Mumbai. However, 40 per cent of the plants received less than 20 per cent score pointing to a dismal state of affairs, the CSE claimed.

The CSE report was critical of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and said its plants that were rated received scores of 16-28 per cent. The poorest of the lot was Delhi’s Badarpur plant. CSE functionaries, however, added that NTPC did not disclose its data and was rated based on a primary survey and publicly available information.


“Our finding is that in India, where the demand for power is increasing, power plants are performing way below the global benchmarks. Given the rapid increase in coal-based power…, stress on precious resources like water and land will increase and air and water pollution will worsen, unless corrective measures are taken by the industry and policy
makers,” Sunita Narain, Director General of CSE said.

She said the study had found that plants were operating at 60-70 per cent capacity only and if capacity utilisation is
improved, the sector can meet additional power requirement without emphasising too much on building new plants. As per the study, India’s thermal plants are estimated to withdraw around 22 billion cubic metre of water, which is over half of India’s domestic water need. Even plants with cooling towers consume water which is way above what is consumed in countries like China, the study claimed.