New Delhi: A turbine supplied by China’s Dongfang Electric Corp. Ltd to a power project in Amarkantak, Chhattisgarh, failed during trial runs in January, said people close to the matter.
“During the trial runs of the project, the bearings of the turbine went dry in unit 1 and (this) has affected the commissioning of the project,” said a person who is aware of the development and didn’t want to be named.
Matter of concern: Lanco Infratech’s CMD Lagadapati Madhusudhan Rao. Of the 1,400MW that the company plans to sell in the open market, 500MW is meant to come from the Chhattisgarh project. Bharath Sai / Hindustan Times
This is the second such incident involving turbines supplied by Dongfang. A turbine it supplied to West Bengal Power Development Corp. Ltd’s 300MW Sagardighi project had also failed in mid-2008.
The Chhattisgarh project, developed by Lanco Amarkantak Power Pvt. Ltd, was in the process of commissioning a 300MW unit when the incident with Dongfang’s turbine occurred. The project has two units of 300MW each.
The Amarkantak plant, whose installed capacity may be expanded to 1,920MW, is promoted by Lanco Infratech Ltd and KVK Energy Pvt. Ltd, both based in Hyderabad, and German government-owned project financier Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG).
“The unit has not been properly erected. There are some testing issues as well. The quality of equipment from Dongfang is yet to be assured,” said an official at the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India’s apex power sector planning body, who was aware of the failure. He also didn’t want to be identified.
Wen Ya, Dongfang’s chief representative in India, was away in China. Li Qi, who is currently in charge of the India office, said by email: “For Amarkantak unit No.1, due to (the) commissioning fail(ure), the bearings are damaged... Right now the bearings of unit No.1 have already be(en) reinstalled, and the turbine case will be closed within this month.”
Qi said he expected to restart the unit by the middle of next month. He also said that DEG and Dongfang would hold “serious” discussions “to find out the reason of this accident.”
Questions emailed to Lanco’s spokesperson went unanswered.
The Amarkantak incident brings to the fore issues about the quality of Chinese power generation equipment. Several power projects developers in India that would together generate 22,000MW have placed orders for equipment from Chinese firms that include Dongfang, Shanghai Electric Power Co. Ltd and Harbin Power Equipment Co. Ltd. Of these, almost 40% are with Dongfang. Indian manufacturers, hit by competitive pricing, have been unable to meet the growing demand for equipment.
Last year, a government audit on Chinese power equipment was completed without any of the companies, including Dongfang, participating. CEA conducted the survey at the behest of state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel), which competes with Chinese firms to supply power equipment, as reported by Mint on 5 August. Bhel had alleged that the equipment provided by these companies was of poor quality.
“Today all the projects using Chinese equipment are facing problems. It will be only after one or two years, when time will tell whether these issues have been taken care of,” CEA chairman Rakesh Nath had earlier told Mint.
R.V. Shahi, former Union power secretary and chairman of Energy Infratech Pvt. Ltd, an energy consulting company, said: “When we award projects in our contract documents, we must lay down specific points to check the equipment quality. At those stages, independent inspection by renowned inspection agencies or by internal inspection teams must be carried out.”
Lanco Infratech has an installed electricity generation capacity of 524MW and is involved in projects that would have installed capacity to produce another 7,880MW.
The Amarkantak project has a significant role to play in Lanco’s merchant power plans—out of the proposed 1,400MW of merchant power allocation planned by the company, 500MW has been earmarked from the project, Lagadapati Madhusudhan Rao, chairman and managing director, Lanco, had earlier told Mint. Merchant power is a term used by the industry to describe electricity sold in the open market.