Firm to turn Dhapa waste into electricity

The Telegraph 2009-07-27, New Delhi

Renewable energy leader Astonfield plans to invest $130 million to set up a 54 mega watt (MW) plant that will convert solid waste into electricity at Dhapa, a 186-hectare dumping ground in Calcutta.

"We are in the final stages of discussion on the project and a formal announcement will be made later this year," Ameet Shah, co-chairman of Astonfield Renewable Re· sources Ltd. told The Tele?graph. He said this would be the second largest such facility outside the US.

Astonfield Renewable Re?sources Is the Indian unit of the US-based infrastructure major Astonfield Manage?ment. Shah said the process of setting up the plant would begin in 2010, and it was likely to be commissioned in two to three years.

The company plans to invest $2 billion in the country over the next five years to generate l,000MW, mostly from solar sources.

The Dhapa plant. Once commissioned, will meet about 25 per cent of Calcutta's energy deficiency, Shah said. Power utility CESC has es?timated that even after the commissioning of its Budge Budge unit, Calcutta will face a . Shortfall of about lOG?150MW

On land acquisition, Shah said, "The beauty of solid waste-to-energy projects is that there is no need to acquire fresh land. The plant would be set up in the dumping ground itself"

A report on Calcutta's solid waste management said that around 4.000 tons of waste were generated in Calcutta every day, of which an average 3,208 tonnes were transported, and the rest uncollected.

Around 98 per cent of waste is dumped a Dhapa. Of these. 30 per cent is recyclable, 45 per cent is compostable and the rest is inert.

In addition to the Dhapa project, Astonfield is setting up a biomass power plant at Gangarampur in Bengal. Work on the facility will begin from the last quarter of 2009.

"We have tied up with the French firm Areva Renewables to invest around Rs 630 crore in biomass power proj?ects, which will generate 100MV," Shah said. Gan?garampur is the first project.

"The state government will procure the agricultural residue such as rice husk and rice straw from the farmers. The peasants have also been urged to form a co-operative, as this will result in a steady flow or raw material and pro?vide additional income to them," Shah said. On tariff, he said it varied from state to state, but it was in the range of Rs 2.50-Rs 5 per unit.

Officials in the ministry of new and renewable energy said the country had potential to generate 86,000 MW through various renewable energy sources, excluding solar. Of these, Bengal has capacity to generate 393MW from small hydro-electric projects, l0 MW from biomass and 221MW from wastes.

In biomass, India's capacity is 19,5OOMW. Several players have set up plants with a combined capacity of 703MW. Among the states, Andhra Pradesh leads the pack with 210MW.

Officials said the government had been providing incentives for biomass power generation. These include a capital Subsidy linked with capacity and fiscal incentives such as customs duty reliefs on the import of machineries and components. Excise duty exemptions and term loans from the Indian Renewable En?ergy Development Agency and other financial institutions.