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NEPRA likely to set tariff early next month

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has received a petition for determination of generation tariff for the first-ever $22 million agriculture residue biomass fuelled power plant in Punjab.

Lumen Energia (Pvt.) Limited (LEPL), a local firm, has filed a petition for its 12 megawatt plant having expected project cost of $22.619 million and would be financed on 80 percent debt and 20 percent equity.

The LEPL has proposed a tariff of Rs11.1175 per unit. NEPRA would hold a public hearing on April 3, 2012 to determine the tariff.

Biomass power generation can be reliably produced by using plant matter, including rice husk, cotton stalk, corn cobs, sugarcane trash and wood. LEPL is currently developing five biomass power plants of 11 megawatt each.

These multi biomass fuel fired power plants will be located in five different districts of the province of Punjab. Each 11 megawatt plant will burn various kinds of agricultural waste easily available.

LEPL has already received the government of Pakistan approval to develop its first 12 megawatt power plant in Jhang.

About 100,000 tons of agricultural biomass waste will be consumed annually at each biomass power plant. The fuel will rice husk, cotton stalk, rice and wheat stalk, bagasse, sugar cane trash and corn cobs.

The multi-fuel combustion flexibility will ensure that plant will have year round availability of fuel.

By using agricultural waste that, in most instances, would be burned in the fields, each plant will be able to generate power equivalent to what an oil-fired plant would produce by burning 25,000 tons of furnace oil a year.

The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) in 2010 had issued letters of intent (LoI) to Lumen Energia Private Limited and SSJD Group for setting up 11MW and 12MW biomass energy power plants in Punjab and Sindh respectively.

The AEDB is actively facilitating public and private sector organisations for establishing and promoting biomass to energy projects in the country.

The AEDB is developing national strategy and plans for the utilization of biomass to energy resources to achieve targets approved by the government.

Agricultural waste (biomass) is one of the most abundant indigenous fuel source and biomass-based alternative energy projects could play a vital role in overcoming the energy crisis. It may be mentioned that all the agrarian countries in the world had worked on using biomass for power generation and Pakistan can benefit for being one of the largest agrarian countries in the world.

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