Editorial October 2019

India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US.

With a massive installed portfolio of more than 196 GW, India’s coal-based power generation industry is a major source of emissions. The generation industry is, therefore, tightening its belt for meeting the revised emission norms. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had, in 2015, come up with new norms for coal-based power plants to cut down emissions of particulate matter (PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen. The Central Electricity Authority then chalked out a detailed plan to retrofit old thermal plants across the country with the required equipment to meet the new norms with a 2022 deadline. For thermal power plants in the NCR, the deadline was 2019.

However, the plans to meet the new norms face several hiccups. So far, FGDs (one of the key pollution control equipment solutions to be installed) have been commissioned for only 1.8 GW of capacity and tenders awarded for only 13.86 GW of capacity or 8 per cent of the planned capacity. Recently, the environment authority has asked Haryana’s two coal-based power plants in the NCR to comply with the emission norms by next year or face closure. Developers are asking for more time to meet the deadlines. Recently, Tamil Nadu’s state-owned generating company also sought extension of the deadlines to install FGD systems in two units. Meanwhile, state gencos, which are struggling with financial issues, have also sought funds from the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) or from the Clean Coal Cess to be able to upgrade plants.

That said, another key lever for reducing the country’s emissions is the e-mobility segment, which has seen some positive developments. As a clean, zero-emissions mode of transport, EVs are expected to account for almost 30 per cent of sales by 2030 as per government targets. There have been several policy initiatives – such as FAME 2, the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage – which have been launched in the past few months to accelerate the e-mobility transition. This month, a critical policy development has been the issuance of new charging infrastructure guidelines, which are aimed at being more investor and consumer friendly by delicensing the setting up of charging infrastructure.

Power Line’s Infocus on Emission Control and Special Section on EVs this month attempt to take stock of these two critical issues.