India to take minimum 6 years to cap toxic emissions from power plants.
The nation’s power industry regulator says a countrywide roll out of equipment to lower sulfur dioxide emissions won’t be completed until 2023.
And that’s only one of the the four types of pollutants plants must cap.
The emission upgrades, estimated by an industry lobby group last year to cost as much as 2.5 trillion rupees ($38.8 billion).
They have been delayed as power companies battle stressed finances and are under pressure to reduce costs.
The caps are meant to ease emissions from coal plants, which cause tens of thousands of premature deaths annually. This is according to a report published in 2013 by Greenpeace and Conservation Action Trust.
The environment ministry in Dec. 2015 set a two-year deadline for thermal power plants in India to cap emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury.
Ten of the 20 global cities with the highest level of PM2.5 — small particles that are the greatest health risk — were in India.
This is according to data compiled by the World Health Organization published last year.
Plants will need to be shut down while installing sulfur dioxide control units. These require coordinated scheduling to avoid any grid imbalance to ensure uninterrupted power supplies.
The progress on capping other types of emissions may be slower. The technology for controlling nitrogen oxides is still to be tested on high-ash Indian coal.
This will first be used on a few plants owned by state-run NTPC Ltd., Verma said. A plan for mercury emissions is yet to be finalized, he said.
“The industry needs a regulatory assurance that the costs can be recovered through tariffs,” said Ashok Khurana, director general at New Delhi-based Association of Power Producers.
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