Dhapa Plant to Generate 36MW of Power

Hindustan Times 2008-03-25

The landfill at Dhapa could soon be the site for a power plant, supplying grid power to the state electricity board, generated from the very garbage it will stand on. Astonfield, a US-incorporated power and infrastructure firm, will develop the localized power plant and has presented a detailed feasibility report to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, which owns the landfill.

Astonfield co-chairman Sourabh Sen, who met Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya on Monday, told Hindustan Times that the power plant would generate around 25 MW of commercial power using solid waste from the garbage dump. "We can generate 36 MW of power at the Dhapa plant, 11 MW of which would be used to sustain ourselves and the rest would be uploaded to the grid for commercial supply. We will sell power at the government-approved rate of Rs 5 per unit, "he said.

Sen, a former Wall Street banker, has tied up with Veolia Environment, the global renewable energy major from France, for the project and is ready to make the plant operational within 18 months. "We are ready to launch the project within a month if we receive a green signal from the government. While it will take around 6 months for the civil construction, we have asked Veolia, our technology partner for the project, to finish their part within 14 months although we have asked for 18 months from the government," he said.

Although the project has been in the pipeline for some time, Astonfield started working on it in October with engineers at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation expressing doubts about the quality of the waste at Dhapa. The KMC had commissioned specialist firms from Canada and Germany to check if the waste was of calorific value, necessary for such a project.

"The earlier companies said it would not be cost effective since the waste was of poor quality. We invited scientists and engineers from Veolia to visit the city in October last year and they found the waste be between 2,400 to 2,600 kilo calories. According to them the quality of the Dhapa waste is much better than the kind of waste they are working at similar plants in China," Sen pointed out. The Veolia experts, however, said that the waste should be treated and dried at boilers for better results, due to the nature of the city?Äôs monsoon and humid climate.

While Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed interest in the project, Astonfield has made extensive presentations to the Mayor and civic engineers, showing them videos of Veolia?Äôs operational plants at China, Taiwan and Macao. Once KMC is convinces, Astonfield would start working on "India?Äôs first municipal solid waste-to-power plant of global standards, " Sen said.

The Astonfield co-chairman said that the project?Äôs estimated cost is $65 million, around Rs 230 crores, including a 16-acre-plot on Dhapa the firm would buy.

"We don't want any land from the government, just to earmark a place on the 180-acre Dhapa for us to buy. With a projected break-even period of about 6 years for the plant, we only want the government to buy power from us at the approved rate, " he stated.