The environment and forestry ministry is likely to relax the deadline for installation of pollution reducing equipment by thermal power plants by up to two years.
The measure expected on the request of the power ministry will give power units sufficient time to carry forward the design changes effectively.
Sources in the power ministry said the environment ministry may soon notify the extension that will give power plants time till 2024 for making changes in their plant design to conform to new pollution standards.
A notification issued by MoEF in December asked captive thermal power plants to meet new emission standards for Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) by June 30, 2020 and other power producers by December 2022.
In its letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF), the power ministry has sought two years extension for installation of Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) systems in a majority of the operational Independent Power Producers (IPP) and Captive Power Producers (CPP).
The letter mentions that more time should be given to 322 out of the 448 units that are planned for FGD systems, which removes polluting sulphur dioxide (SO2) from exhaust flue gases.
The total capacity of the 322 units is about 1 lakh MW. This would mean that a large portion of installed thermal plants would benefit if MoEF gives more time for pollution reducing initiatives to power producers.
Industry body FICCI had earlier highlighted the need to give more time to the industry for FGD installation in view of the technical difficulties to comply with the new norms in such a short period. In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the industry body had said that FGD installation may take over 30 months for each power producer so deadline extension was required. Also, it suggested setting up of a government committee to review the timelines for FGD implementation, assessment of the requirement and the existing bottlenecks.
The power ministry has made a case for 322 plants for extension as these face some serious issues in complying with the new pollution emission norms. Out of the identified 448 power units comprising nearly 1.70 lakh MW capacity, feasibility studies were yet to start in around 10 units consisting of 3,560 MW as on August 11. Of the remaining 438, feasibility studies had been conducted on around 416 units (1.57 lakh MW), tender specifications made for 329 (1.31 lakh MW), NITs issued for 294 (1.20 lakh MW) and bids awarded for 130 units (58,000 MW). FGD has been commissioned for four of these units (1,740 MW).
Sources said that there may not be a uniform two year extension given to all identified power projects but such relaxation would be available in varying degrees depending on the progress made by plants in completing FGD installation.
The installation of FGD is required largely by old and inefficient plants that continue to supply power to discoms at tariff determined several years ago. Newer plants with super critical technology already use equipment that is not only less polluting but also highly efficient.