Budget 2020 | Sops to retire thermal plants

Budget proposal aimed at ensuring cleaner air in cities

Published - February 01, 2020 10:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI

With several thermal power plants getting flak for not complying with emission norms, the Finance Minister in her Budget speech announced a scheme to encourage State and city governments to eschew old power plants.

“There are yet, thermal power plants that are old and their carbon emission levels are high. For such power plants, we propose that utilities running them would be advised to close them, if their emission is above the pre-set norms. The land so vacated can be put to alternative use,” Ms. Sitharaman said. The new scheme, aimed at encouraging States that are formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air in cities, would be implemented by the Environment ministry with an outlay of ₹4,400 crore, she added.

C.K. Mishra, Secretary to the Union Environment ministry, said the government already had a scheme in place for getting old coal-fired plants that don’t meet standards to retire their facilities. “We have a ₹3,000 crore allocation for this, but as a broad signal to promoting clean energy, I see it as a welcome step,” he added.

Current rules say that coal-fired power plants have to ensure that they curtail sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by implementing appropriate technology. While this was originally to be in place by 2017, the ministry has extended the deadline to 2022. Eleven plants in the vicinity of Delhi had a December 31 deadline but only one had actually complied.

According to the Central Electricity Authority, 166 GW of capacity requires retrofitting with flue gas desulphurisation (to meet sulphur oxide emission norms) and 66 GW capacity needs modifications or enhancements to reduce particulate matter emissions.

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