Emission Watch – Status assessment of SO₂ emissions and FGD Installation for coal-based power plants in Tamil Nadu

This report produced with Poovulagin Nanbargal and Asar, we looked at status of emission and FGD (Flue Gas Desulphurisation) installations at coal-based power plants in Tamil Nadu. The report also assessed the public data availability and quality of OCEMS (Online Continuous Emission Monitoring System) made available by the power plants and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

The report highlights that:

Neyveli, Chennai, Tuticorin and Mettur are four major coal burning clusters in the state of Tamil Nadu. Neyveli and Chennai rank among the top 50 SO₂ hotspots globally in 2019.
The reactive gases such as SO₂ and NOx react with other gases and materials, and turn into secondary particles to form a major portion of particulate matter (PM₂.₅), which is a globally known health hazard.
Only two units (1,200 MW) out of 40 operational units (13,160 MW) in Tamil Nadu have installed Flue Gas Desulfuriser (FGD) as of August 2021. Another 8 units (3,950 MW) have awarded the bids for FGD installation, essentially leaving 30 units (8,810 MW) out of 40 without any significant progress towards installing FGDs. None of the state sector units as well as NLC-owned power plants have awarded the tenders yet.
There are discrepancies in the power plant emissions data (OEMS) collected through RTI and the data provided on PCB website (the RTI information was obtained for three months— April, May and June 2021). The data procured through RTI shows unusually low values for SO₂ emissions in absence of any control methods for few units.
Tamil Nadu’s total coal and lignite based installed capacity for electricity generation stands at 13.6 GW which includes shares from state, central and independent power producers, with current utilisation of less than 53%.
The actual peak demand for Tamil Nadu was 8.8%, 13.6 % and 15.5% lower than projected demand under EPS 19 respectively for 2018–19, 2019–20 and 2020–21.
Tamil Nadu has more than 7.5 GW coal-based thermal power plants under various stages of construction which will further add to the surplus capacity that is actually not required at this point and will ultimately lead to wastage of public money and Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in the power sector.

Media Contact: Sunil Dahiya, sunil@energyandcleanair.org