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With energy efficiency becoming the buzzword (and rightly so, as this is a real low hanging fruit), every industry is looking at processes and concepts through which better gains on the power / energy used can be achieved. One of the simplest ways to achieve much higher efficiency gains is through combined heat and power (CHP) in which the heat remaining in the exhaust gas coming out from the power producing turbine is applied for useful purposes.

CHP is termed cogeneration in the case of sugar mills, where the waste bagasse is used to produce power and the heat fr0m the exhaust is used for industrial heating. This process has gained so much popularity in the sugar mills that it is said that many sugar mills/distilleries make more money from the power thus produced and sold to the grid, than from the sugar they produce!

Tamil Nadu occupies 3rd place in the Sugar Production. So it is only natural that there will be significant activity in the state with regard to bagasse based cogeneration. Currently, 43 mills are functioning in Tamil Nadu in Co-operative, Public and Private Sectors of which 28 mills have put up Co-generation plants with a total installed capacity of 637.4 MW. Well, that implies two out of every three sugar mills have cogeneration facilities.

Some more inputs on CHP in Tamil Nadu:

  • The potential of bagasse based co-generation plant was estimated at 800 MW in Tamil Nadu, according to MNRE.
  • Establishment of Co-generation plants along with Sugar mill modernization in 10 Co-operative sugar mills and 2 Public sector sugar mills in Tamil Nadu is under execution and these projects would contribute to a capacity of 183 MW.
  • The installation by end of 2012 is expected to exceed the potential forecasted by MNRE.
  • Though bagasse based CHP has been a major contributor in terms of renewable power for the state, the cogeneration concept hasn’t gained serious momentum in other industrial sectors (non bagasse cogen)