Blue Sky Thinking Gives CLP the Edge on Green Technology
Blue Sky Thinking Gives CLP the Edge on Green Technology

Talk is cheap when it comes to clean energy: Achieving it takes commitment and a willingness to accept hefty short-term costs. CLP India has demonstrated that commitment, and is now reaping the benefits.

Many people talk about the importance of clean technology, but putting it into practice isn’t as simple. It involves challenges such as high implementation costs and a lack of immediate returns, and organisation has to be genuinely forward-looking in working towards sustainability. 


CLP India was an early adopter of clean technology and has gone on to demonstrate that – while costly in the short-term – it can end up giving a business a powerful competitive edge in the longer term.

The severe air pollution problem in India affects corporations as much as it does individuals.

The story began in 2012 when CLP India’s flagship Jhajjar Power Station decided to install Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) units, long before other power plants in the country, to treat the Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) emitted from power generation.

India’s power sector is a major contributor of industrial SO2 emissions, a common source of air pollution that has plagued the country for years and remains an unresolved issue today. Two thermal power plants in Andhra Pradesh were reportedly among the worst emitters of SO2 globally in 2019. 

While renewable energy generation, including small and large hydro projects, biomass gasifier, biomass power, urban and industrial waste power, as well as solar and wind energy, increased in India to around 136 GW by the end of November 2020, the country currently still relies heavily on coal.


Coal-fired generation accounted for around 53% of the total installed power capacity as of November 2020. The most practical approach in addressing air pollution issues in these circumstances is to retrofit thermal power plants by installing FGD units to remove SO2 from the exhaust flue gases.

India’s power capacity by fuel
Source: Ministry of Power, Government of India

In 2015, India’s Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change defined the compliance limit for SO2 emissions for all thermal power plants and directed them to install FGD units by the end of 2017. 


However, for many power plants in India, installing FGD units has not been easy, due to a lack of technological awareness and experience. With the additional burdens of high capital costs as well as space constraints for FGD installations which require major modifications and longer shut-down periods, many power plants were not able to meet this requirement. Even when the deadline for adopting FGD units was later postponed to 2019, it was once again missed by the majority of power plants. 

Drawing lessons from developed countries where more stringent environmental laws were in place already, CLP Group had the foresight to anticipate the regulatory change in India over emissions laws, and CLP India was able to leverage on the technology available in the global market. Jhajjar Power Station became a forerunner when it installed two FGD units on a voluntary basis in 2012, well before the enforcement of the regulatory requirement.


In addition to the FGD unit, Jhajjar Power Station has also adopted other technologies such as low nitrogen oxide burners and zero liquid discharge (a wastewater treatment solution) to reduce its environmental impact.


The early adoption of FGD technology by Jhajjar not only has contributed to environmental protection and sustainability, but also has given the power station competitive advantages. While other thermal power plants are still struggling to install FGD units and seeking deadline extensions, the more stringent regulatory requirements may result in increased demand for power from generators that have already adopted advanced greener technologies. 

FGD units installed at Jhajjar Power Station
FGD units installed at Jhajjar Power Station can help remove Sulphur Dioxide from the exhaust flue gases and mitigate air pollution.
Jhajjar Power Station has been recognised as the only power plant in Delhi National Capital Region to comply with all of the government’s environmental regulations.


In addition, the early adoption has allowed CLP India to secure the supply of raw materials required for FGD units, which may become more difficult to procure in coming years when more power plants will be equipped with FGD units. 

The journey hasn’t all been smooth sailing. CLP India had its fair share of struggles and had to overcome several hurdles to meet the 2019 deadline for compliance with SO2 requirements. 

When Jhajjar’s FGD units were initially installed, there were no statutory emission regulations to follow and as such the equipment was designed with limited redundancy, which led to complex challenges for continuous operation. Nevertheless, CLP India rectified the problems with major engineering modifications carried out in 2018, and the two FGD units at Jhajjar went into full and continuous operation in February 2019.


As a torchbearer for clean technology adoption, CLP India has enjoyed multiple benefits on business sustainability in terms of reduction of emissions, better compliance management, a strengthened corporate reputation – and most of all, the satisfaction of contributing towards clearer, bluer skies over India.