As many as 295 coal-based power plants have got more time of two to four years to meet strict new environment norms which were to be implemented by December 2017. In November, the environment ministry brought in tougher norms relating to consumption of water, particulate matter, SO2, NOx and mercury for coal-based thermal power plants.”The Central Electricity Authority has put in public domain the implementation plan for FDG installation to meet some of these norms with deadline ranging from 2020 to 2024. Therefore, about 295 coal-based thermal plants with 122.67 GW of capacity would meet the new environment regulation by 2024,” a source said. However, the source said that the environment ministry has not amended its regulation for giving more time to these coal fired thermal power plants to meet new stricter regulation. The FGD or Flue-gas desulfurisation is a set of technologies used to remove sulphur dioxide from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants, and from the emissions of other sulphur oxide emitting processes. Earlier this year, Power Minister Piyush Goyal had clearly indicated that the environment ministry was on board to consider extension of December 2017 deadline for coal-based thermal power plants to meet stricter emission norms. He was of the view that consumer would ultimately bear the high cost of imported equipment if the power plants meet December 2017 deadline.
“The discussions are on to increase the deadline. I think it should be extended (beyond December 2017) because it should be done in a way so that the poor should not be affected,” the minister had said.The environment ministry brought new norms for coal-based power stations to cut down emissions of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and improve the ambient air quality around power plants. The ministry had for the first time fixed SOx and NOx norms for power stations and mandated that plants adhere to these guidelines by 2017.
According to industry estimates, the cost for technical changes at these plants could be up to Rs 1.5 crore per megawatt. Besides, the domestic capacity to manufacture power equipment for the upgrade is not more than 15 GW a year, compared to demand of around 40 GW per annum for meeting SOx norms alone.