About 20,830 metric tons of biomass, of which paddy straw is a component, has been used in seven thermal power stations in the NCR so far, and the tendering process for the use of 43 lakh metric tons additional is in progress. This is according to data presented during a session on agricultural stubble management during a discussion on air pollution mitigation measures in Delhi-NCR organized by the Commission for Quality Management. air (CAQM) last week.
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The use of paddy straw in power plants is one way to minimize stubble burning. CAQM member secretary Arvind Nautiyal said the commission has issued statutory instructions to 11 thermal power stations within a 300km radius of Delhi to mandatorily co-combust biomass with coal, replacing 5% to 10% of their biomass charcoal needs. These guidelines were issued in September of last year. Seven of the NCR’s 11 power plants co-fire coal with biomass, according to another NTPC presentation. Of these, two factories are operated by the NTPC, which is under the central government, and five are under other organizations. Power stations should use as much paddy straw as possible.
About 1.16 million tonnes of crop residues in Punjab are used through “ex-situ” stubble management methods, such as use in biomass power plants, Nautiyal said.
Straw uses include electricity generation, fuel for industrial boilers, composting and as packaging material. The amount used is a small fraction of the total amount of straw generated in Punjab, which was 18.74 million tonnes in 2021. About 6.8 million tonnes of straw was generated in Haryana.
NCR industries are allowed to use biofuel, in addition to PNG, and other cleaner fuels like propane, butane or LPG, Nautiyal said. Ex situ management of stubble requires mapping of all districts for straw availability and spring demand, he said.
“Supply is not an issue; the problem is logistics. The straw will not be used in the form it is in, it must be processed and processed into briquettes, pellets or in any manner that the industry may require. The key is to store the straw, transport it, process it and then make it available for sustainable use,” he added.
Regarding in situ stubble management, where crop residues are managed in the field using machines, Nautiyal said: “The problem is not the availability of machines. They are quite numerous, more than 2 lakh. The question is how to map needs and optimize their availability during the harvest season. Although the means were available, the reach was not so great and despite the availability of the machines, the use in the field was not so great.
The bio-decomposer, a solution sprayed on the thatch to help it decompose, should be used in “add-on mode” with the machines, Nautiyal added.