Biomass is a renewable resource and estimated to be surplus across the country. It has been identified as a potential source for power generation. Biomass is derived from the by-products of various resources like agricultural crops such as paddy, corn and sugarcane,
wood waste and forest residues. It is estimated that Karnataka has a biomass based power generation potential of 1000 MW and till date close to power projects totalling to 90 MW have been commissioned.
Karnataka Electricty Regulatory Commission (KERC) believes that the slow growth of biomass based power generation projects could be due to the prevailing buyback tariff and the fuel cost which isdynamic. KERC commissioned this study called ‘Sustainability of
Biomass based Power Generation in Karnataka’ in order to review the situation and suggest improvements so that there could be a healthy mix of biomass generated power in the State under the renewable energy category.
TERI has been engaged to review the operational features of existing biomass plants, fuel linkages and to advice variable cost component of tariff in order to make it attractive. KERC also sought suggestions for mitigating fuel risks so as to support future growth of biomass power plants in the state. The status of biomass power plants of neighbouring states was studied for a comparative analysis.
During the study period, it was found that six biomass based power plants (53 MW) were in operational. Five out of the six power plants are in the rice growing belt and rice husk is used as a major fuel.
Other biomass fuels are used as supplementary fuel based on availability. As the price of rice husk has steeply increased during the last three years, power plants are in constant search for a low cost biomass so that the fuel costs could be kept under check.
Due to a mismatch between the discom buy back tariff and actual generation unit cost, some of the power plants have stopped their operations and one power power plant has recently shifted to open access in the state. The situation is similar in other states too as
revealed during the study.
In Tamil Nadu, as on 31st March 2012, out of 169 MW with PPA to supply power to TANGEDCO, 163.15 MW was allowed to exit out of the PPA and 5.85 MW are still supplying power to TANGEDCO. In Maharashtra only five projects out of the 14 projects are operational in the State presently, which amounts to 147 MW of installed capacity hardly being utilised. In Andhra Pradesh, most of the biomass power plants are operational on a seasonal basis when biomass fuel prices are low.