This workshop was about the implications of Coal Washing, bringing together key stakeholders across industry, government and academia on such issues. This workshop builds on a study on coal ash production and use underway, and broader studies on coal and energy at Brookings India.
To keep the discussions free-flowing, the Chatham House Rule (no attribution) was followed.
This event is by-invitation only.
The new environmental norms for emissions from the thermal power plants are slated to kick in by December 2017. Increased focus on worsening air quality has necessitated this measure. However, concerns have been raised over the tight implementation timelines by the industry. There are multiple ways to reduce air pollution that are complementary, one of which is cleaning coal and reducing its ash content such that a cleaner coal is burned in power plants thereby reducing the emissions. The government (various ministries) have come up with a number of regulations for reducing ash in the overall system, to enumerate a few:
– Restricted Transportation: Reducing transported distances for high ash coal (34 per cent ash and more).
– Increase Coal Washing: Increasing washing capacity of 9 new thermal coal washeries and 6 new coking coal washeries. Already have around 130 MT of coal washing capacity at the moment and new capacity of around 75 MT being planned.
– Addressing grade slippage: Independent monitoring and certification of coal (grade) being consumed off CIL.
All of the above are in addition to the tighter environmental norms. However, interventions in the coal washing value chain at the point of supply also raise related questions, which need to be triangulated with existing ground realities and would be indicative of questions for discussion:
– How are the rejects being handled: Backfilling versus sale versus pilferage versus storage versus small scale power plants, economies, environmental impact and regulation?
– What is the impact of coal washing on the water table: are there newer technologies that can help in dry washing of coal, are there any hurdles to new technology adoption?
– Ownership of washeries: Independent washing versus in house washing or using contractual washing? Ensuring operational efficiency (quality and grade consistency)
– Impact on power prices: is there a potential for power costs to rise, short term basis, transferring costs elsewhere down the value chain?
– Regulatory aspects (contract management and enforcement): Market for selling premium quality washed coal at a higher price and punitive measures for deviation from quality?
– Transportation alternatives: trucking versus railways? Is there a plausible transfer of high ash coal from the railways to the trucking sector?
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