NTPC snubs foreign emissions tech worth $2 billion

India has some of the worst levels of pollution in the world, and has repeatedly missed deadlines to clean up its network of coal-fired power plants.( AFP)
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Updated 20 December 2019

NTPC snubs foreign emissions tech worth $2 billion

  • NTPC ran pilot tests on filtering equipment made by GE, others
  • Said technology not suitable for power plants in India

NEW DELHI: Top Indian electricity generator NTPC has rejected the emissions-cutting technology of US giant General Electric Co (GE) and other foreign firms for its coal-fired plants, documents show, shutting them out of an estimated $2 billion in orders.

Despite struggling with some of the world’s worst air pollution levels, India has already pushed back a deadline to cut emissions to 2022, after extensive lobbying by power producers who cited high costs and technical difficulties.

The rejection of the foreign technology comes at a time when over half of the coal-fired plants in India are already set to miss a phased deadline, starting this month, to cut emissions of lung disease-causing sulfur oxides.

State-run NTPC, which generates a quarter of India’s electricity, held talks with foreign firms including GE, Norway-based Yara International and Japan-based Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems over the potential purchase of filters that lower emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxide.

However, none of the pilot tests it conducted met key emissions parameters, NTPC said in a presentation submitted last month to the Central Pollution Control Board.

“The pilot tests concluded that both selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies currently available are not suitable for installation at power plants in India,” it said in the presentation reviewed by Reuters, referring to technologies used to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Thermal power companies produce three-quarters of the country’s electricity and account for some 80 percent of India’s industrial emissions of sulfur oxides that cause lung diseases and smog-creating nitrogen oxides.

NTPC had presented cost estimates in 2016 for the installation of the technology to cut nitrogen oxides throughout its network of power plants. According to Reuters calculations based on those estimates, the cost would total $2.4 billion, although industry consultants said recently that those costs could now be 25 percent lower.

The utility wants a dilution in nitrogen oxide emissions standards and claimed in last month’s presentation that the lowered standards can be achieved with minor retrofits, without the need to install new equipment.

The pollution board held a stakeholder meeting on Nov. 7, an audio recording of which was reviewed by Reuters. In the meeting, GE and Yara representatives rejected NTPC’s views, saying their technologies were proven worldwide, according to the recording and two sources present at the meeting. NTPC did not attend the meeting.

NTPC, and the Indian units of GE and Yara did not respond to detailed Reuters questionnaires seeking comment. Mitsubishi Hitachi did not immediately respond to a request for comment made on its website.

NTPC said in the earlier presentation to the pollution board that high ash content in Indian coal posed challenges to installing SCR technology and that SNCR did not meet key parameters.

The foreign companies responded, saying pilot tests were run in a constrained environment and that commercial use of the equipment, which requires some changes to the plant, would cut emissions to the required levels.

“The conditions for the (pilot) test was that we can’t touch special parts at all, we can’t touch furnace tubes. NTPC did not allow us,” Senthilvel Rangasamy, a GE representative, said in the meeting.

Premchand Talreja, the managing director of the Indian unit of Yara, said the pilot tests achieved the desired results.

“There should not be doubt on the technology itself,” Talreja said in the meeting.

Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and previously a member of a European Union technical working group on emissions by coal-fired utilities, said India has failed to curtail emissions due to “delay and misinformation tactics by the power industry.”

“The power industry managed to build a myth that Indian coal is so special that technologies proven on a wide range of coal types elsewhere need to be tested and validated again in India before the standards can be implemented,” Myllyvirta told Reuters.


Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

Updated 05 August 2020

Dubai launches economic program for post COVID-19 recovery 

  • “The Great Economic Reset Programme” is part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy
  • The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies

DUBAI: Dubai launched an economic program as part of its efforts to reshape the emirate’s economy for a “sustainable” and “resilient” future post the coronavirus pandemic, the government said. 
The Dubai government partnered with the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) to launch “The Great Economic Reset Programme” as part of a “COVID Exit initiative” to help the recovery and reshaping of the economy, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday. 
The economic program will feature analyses of current and future policies, research and extensive stakeholder consultation to set the direction and tone of future economic policies, regulations and initiatives.
The government plans to use local and international experts for economies and societies to create growth strategies for the Dubai economy.
The MBRSG held a “Virtual Policy Council,” with global experts and thought leaders to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and potential policy responses and initiatives. 
Chief economists, senior practitioners and researchers from leading global institutions including the World Bank, joined experts from Dubai Economy and the MBRSG at the first roundtable.
“I believe the triple helix collaboration between public, private and academia stakeholders have always produced the best solutions in the past. In the highly uncertain environment now, extensive collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders are vital to our future prosperity. The Virtual Policy Council will propose the best approaches Dubai and the UAE can adopt to address the risks and opportunities in the next normal economy,” said Mohammed Shael Al-Saadi, CEO of the Corporate Strategic Affairs sector in Dubai Economy.
“This Virtual Policy Council is a key component of the whole process where global experts and thinkers share their views on the future economy. In this new era, the role of governments in enabling the new economic actors is becoming increasingly central, and Dubai is well-positioned to lead the way with innovative models of growth post COVID19,” said Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of MBRSG.
The roundtable also discussed the impact of the pandemic on international trade, foreign investment and tourism, as well as the rise of digital globalization.