KERC seeks stakeholders’ views on fuel pricing for biomass-based plants

Given the fluctuating cost of raw material, the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has sought the views of stakeholders to fix fuel costs for biomass-based power plants.

The Commission, in a ‘discussion paper’, has said that in Karnataka power is generated using agro-waste from cotton/ prosopis juliflora/ jowar stalks/ paddy husk, and so on. Through the alternative use of biomass in brick kilns and other industries it has led to erratic biomass prices, leading to cost variation in power generation.

Stalled operations

Karnataka has an estimated biomass power generation potential of 1,000 MW, in which power projects of about 90 MW have been commissioned and over 300 MW has been allocated to prospective developers.

Less than 10 per cent of the potential for power generation by biomass has been realisedin the State. Some of the biomass units have stopped operations, either due to non availability of fuel or on account of the high fuel prices pushing up the cost of generation.

TERI observations

To address this issue, KERC in 2013 had asked The Energy Research Institute (TERI) to study the operation of biomass-based generation projects.

According to TERI, of the nine plants commissioned, only six are in operation. Five of the six plants are situated in paddy-growing areas and primarily use paddy (rice) husk as the major fuel.

Due to alternative uses of rice husk (like brick kilns), the price is reported to have increased from ?1,800 in FY09 to ?2,500 per tonne in financial year 2013. TERI also noted that, in Karnataka the biomass fuel price varied from ?1,400 per tonne for chilli stalks to ?2,500 per tonne for rice husk, and that fuels such as prosopis juliflora cost less than ?1,000 per tonne.

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Source: Business Line

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SUMIT KUMAR

Executive at India Electron Exchange

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