Solution for stubble burning

Source: The post is based on the article “Solution for stubble burning” published in Business Standard on 22nd October 2022. 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment 

Relevance: measures to tackle stubble burning 

News: The problem of stubble burning is prevailing for many years. The farmers clear the stubble from the previous crop by putting it on fire because it is quick and cheap method. 

Read more: Stubble burning: Addressing north India’s burning issue sustainably
What solution has been provided by the Ministry of Power (MoP)? 

The Ministry of Power (MoP) has provided the to harvest stubble compact into pellets and to burn those pellets in thermal power plants as a coal substitute. 

It has also mandated that thermal plants must substitute 5 per cent of their coal with biomass pellets for the next 25 years. 

Read here: Centre to help set up paddy straw pellet units to arrest stubble burning
What are the concerns associated with burning pellets? 

The cost of the energy unit generated by biomass may be higher than thermal coal. 

Pellets yield lower cal per kg compared to coal and according to some studies the end-to-end carbon impact from burning biomass is higher than the impact from coal burning. 

What are the advantages of pellets or biomass burning? 

Pellets could be sourced by thermal power plants through long-term contracts with pellet suppliers.  

This would create a supply chain where farmers sell stubble to pellet-makers who further sell pellets to power plants and everyone get benefits. 

It will also benefit towards fulfilling the renewable obligations for power generators and distributors as pellets are easily manufactured, stored and transported.  

Power plants can even source biomass and store it using torrefaction (heating in an inert atmosphere) method.  

Moreover, burning pellets releases COs, SPM, etc. but it is categorised as green since plants absorb Carbon dioxide (Co2).  

Therefore, pollutants are removed by the same agents that produce biomass. 

India uses surplus biomass (stubble, straw) to burn in the thermal power plants and it is considered greener compared to other countries. 

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