According to reports, Orient Green Power Company Ltd will add over 45 MW of biomass power plant generation capacity by March 2013.
The Shriram EPC Group Company is looking at a novel approach to secure at least a portion of its biomass — fuel wood — by raising energy plantations in its wind farms.
The company, which has over 325 MW of wind farms and is expanding, has windmills installed on over 1,500 acres.
The land could potentially be used to raise woody plants to fuel its biomass power plants. These power plants also use agricultural waste, such as coconut husk, shell and other fibrous material as fuel.
The proposed addition of biomass-based power generation will take its total biomass plant capacity to 105 MW.
The new capacities include about 8 MW in Maharashtra and 7.5 MW in Madhya Pradesh, both of which are awaiting evacuation infrastructure development to start generating power, according to the company’s managing director, P. Krishnakumar.
In Rajasthan, the company has about 26 MW of biomass plants in operation and will add 8 MW in a month or two. The State Government has an attractive plan to allocate about 500 hectares of land for fuel wood plantation for every MW of power generation capacity. Madhya Pradesh, where Orient Green has about 10 MW under implementation, has a similar proposal under consideration.
The plan to raise energy plantations will be launched on a pilot basis over a 100-acre area and extended subsequently.
The company is also talking to NGOs and farmers with unutilised wasteland to cultivate fuel wood vegetation. It has made a start with a 5-acre farm in Dindigul through a fuel-supply agreement.
Fuel is the weak link in biomass power generation as costs are on the increase, he said. Fuel-wood now costs around Rs 2,500-3,000 a tonne. Power plants need about two tonnes of wood an hour — about 2 kg for every unit of electricity generated. The company hopes to secure about 15-20 per cent of its requirement through such captive plantations initially, he said.
In wind energy generation, the company has announced plans to take its total capacity to about 450 MW by the end of the year. It is now present in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat.
The total capital expenditure per MW estimated is about Rs 5.5-6 crore in biomass and Rs 6.5-7 crore in wind energy generation in the expansion plans.