Push solar energy, reduce dependence on thermal power plants, say environmentalists
The arrival of summer has already began leading to rise power demands in the Capital, which is increasing the work pressure on thermal power plants in the outskirts of Delhi. Environmentalists have urged the Delhi government to expedite work for its ambitious solar power plant on the rooftops of residential houses initiative, as the increased workload on thermal power plants will emit more particulate matter than the permitted value, thereby threatening to increase air pollution levels again this year.
Last Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal asserted that rooftop solar panels will soon be made compulsory in residential areas, adding that the initiative will help meet the Capital’s power demand. “Our analysis shows that significant cost-savings can accrue to the country and to cash-strapped discoms through a planned phase-out of the most expensive coal power plants already in operation and their replacement with cheaper renewable energy,” said an environmental expert.
Many experts say that governments all over the country should go for parallel sources of energy instead of thermal power plants. A study titled ‘Heat in Power’ analysed and rated coal-based thermal power plants on nearly 60 environmental and energy parameters. It showed 40 per cent of the plants (around 18 of the 47) as having a score less than 20 per cent, based on various parameters. NTPC’s Badarpur plant was declared the poorest performing of all. This plant, which contributed a relatively meagre share of Delhi’s power (7.9 per cent during April to October 2015), contributed around 80-90 per cent of the particulate matter, SOx and NOx, generated by the power sector in Delhi. As such, the plant was ranked poorest on the parameters of environmental performance and energy efficiency. Earlier, environmentalists in Delhi had protested the reopening of the Badarpur plant. The Supreme Court authorized Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had ordered reopening of the plant from March 1, as the pollution levels had decreased. “The news (reopening of the power plant) is a big setback to the efforts and progress made towards reducing public health crisis associated with air pollution,” Sunil Dahiya, campaigner, Greenpeace India, said. A recent report released by IIT Kanpur said that power plants were responsible for fly ash, a major pollutant in Delhi. Explaining the research and the need of permanent closure of such power plants near Delhi, Sunita Narain, chief, Centre for Science and Environment, observed, “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 projected by the government, 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.”