Punjab and Haryana alone produce 35 million tons of paddy straw per year, which is not fit for cattle feed, and are instead burnt as there is not much economic value that farmers gain from it. Reintegrating into the soil is expensive. The stubble, however has the useful heating value of around 3200 to 3500 K Cal/kg, which is close to the coal used for power generation in thermal power plants.
SAEL is in the process of commissioning two 100% paddy straw-based power plants in Punjab, besides starting two more s
imilar power plants Haryana. These plants are based Danish technology, and need to adapted to Indian conditions.
SAEL will fund the construction of facilities st IIT-M that to research the combustion of paddy straw.
The results will be put to further test in a boiler environment with a facility created, as suggested by IITM, at a centre at one of the power plants of SAEL.
Paddy straw is commonly known as ‘stubble’ and is thought to be responsible for spikes in pollution across many Northern cities including Delhi. Stubble burning also causes soil erosion, kills beneficial soil organisms and emits harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and methane along with particulate matter.