Air Emissions from Power Generation in India

The ash content in the Indian coal is very high, resulting in high particulate emissions. Run-of-mine domestic Indian coals typically have ash content ranging from 40-50%, moisture content between 4% and 20%, sulfur content between 0.2% and 0.7%, gross calorific value between 2,500 and 5,000 kcal/kg, with non-coking steam coal being in the range of 2,450-3,000 kcal/kg [31-33].

Most of the particulate emissions come from the flue gas, although fugitive dust from coal handling plants and dried-up ash ponds also are significant sources of particulate pollution. Particulate emissions are better regulated than other pollutants, in part because of the use of electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) in all of the plants. Stack emissions of sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are not regulated, and only ambient air concentrations are monitored and regulated for these pollutants. Although about 30% of NOx emissions in India derive from power generation, NOx emissions from coal-based plants are not regulated. Finally, the release of trace elements such as mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), etc., from power plants through the disposal and dispersal of coal ash is also a growing concern in India. The concentrations of many trace elements are high in comparison to coals from other countries [34].

In terms of CO2 emissions, India's emissions from fossil fuels have been increasing at a compounded annual growth rate of 5% from 1990-2004 [2], although it has decreased more recently (2000-2004) to 3.8% - see Fig. 11.8. Nonetheless, India's total emissions in 2004 were still about 4.5 and 3.7 times smaller than U.S. and China emissions, respectively. In per-capita terms, India's carbon emissions in 2004 were almost 1/16 of the emissions of the United States and one-third of those of China.

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