Biomass is one of the renewable energy domains in which Tamil Nadu could have significant potential for progress in future. Estimates suggest only about 10% of the potential has so far been utilized. Of course, the lack of a robust supply chain that make create supply and price security is a problem as much in Tamil Nadu as it is in the rest of the country. Some inputs and updates for biomass power in Tamil Nadu are provided below.
- Potential for Biomass based power in Tamil Nadu is 1589.9 MW (1160 MW based on agricultural waste and 429.9 MW from forest and wasteland cultivation).
- 22 biomass power plants with total installed capacity of 169 MW are in operation.
- Ten biomass power plants with totaling to 120 MW, with over 80% plant load factor, have faced temporary shut downs owing to unviable tariff rates and increasing feedstock cost.
- Biomass power producers association has approached Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) with a request to revise the tariff and offer higher annual tariff escalation. The viable rate for operating biomass power plants in years to come would run beyond Rs 6.50/kWh, but the current tariff of Rs 4.5/kWh is in no way adequate to sustain the projects in the long run.
- Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA), along with Tamil Nadu Biomass Power Producers Association, has been actively involved in promoting large scale energy plantations in marginal / waste land in the state with high potential crops.
- The Tamil Nadu Biomass Power Producers Association suggests that energy plantation would not only serve to provide cheap and continuous feedstock supply for power plants, but it would also improve the quality of life of the rural population. Estimates suggest that a 10 mw biomass power plant can ensure livelihood of over 2,000 marginalised families. They can be employed in collection, transportation, cutting, chipping of biomass and cultivation of wasteland with energy plants like Juliflora, Bheema Bamboo etc.
So, it looks like Tamil Nadu is betting significantly on energy plantations for a viable biomass power sector. Let’s hope they have got it right.