The Union Environment Ministry has recently released guidelines for grant of one-time financial support for establishment of pelletisation and torrefaction plants to promote utilisation of paddy stubble in thermal power plants and industries.
- It is a ₹50-crore incentive scheme.
- It is generated from the environment protection charge being collected by the Central Pollution Control Board following a 2016 Supreme Court order in MC Mehta Vs Union of India case.
- It directed that a charge of 1% of ex-showroom price be imposed on every diesel car with 2000 cc and above capacity in Delhi NCR.
- Cost –
- The estimated cost of setting up a regular pelletisation plant, which can process a tonne per hour, is ₹35 lakh. Under the scheme, the Centre will fund such plants to a maximum of ₹70 lakh subject to capacity.
- Similarly, the cost of establishing a torrefaction plant is ₹70 lakh and under the scheme, is eligible for a maximum funding of ₹1.4 crore.
What is ‘Pelletisation’?
- Paddy straw made into pellets that can be mixed along with coal in thermal power plants.
- This saves coal as well as reduces carbon emissions that would otherwise have been emitted were the straw burnt in the fields, as is the regular practice of most farmers in Punjab and Haryana.
What is ‘Torrefaction’?
- Torrefaction aims to enhance the fuel quality by addressing issues such as energy density, grindability, and storability.
- Torrefaction is costlier but can deliver a product whose energy content is much higher and theoretically substitute for more coal in a power plant.
- Every year, about 27 million tonne of paddy straw is generated in Punjab and Haryana.
- The problem is that about 75% or 20 million tonne is from non-basmati rice, which cannot be fed to cattle as fodder because of its high silica content.