Govt urges power producers to seek opportunities overseas

India is projected to report surplus power supply for the first time in at least eight years during the year ending March, even as several parts remain without access to electricity.


The government is urging its power producers to look overseas for new markets as fewer new plants are needed at home amid surplus generation capacity. Photo: AFP
The government is urging its power producers to look overseas for new markets as fewer new plants are needed at home amid surplus generation capacity. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: India is urging its power producers to look overseas for new markets as fewer new plants are needed at home amid surplus generation capacity.

The Indian government is encouraging state-run power producers to build plants overseas, coal and power minister Piyush Goyal said in an interview on Saturday. The country is projected to report surplus power supply for the first time in at least eight years during the year ending March, even as several parts remain without access to electricity.

“State-run generators NTPC Ltd. and NLC India Ltd. as well as private producers can explore opportunities in India’s neighboring countries and beyond,” Goyal said.

Some have already signed international agreements. NTPC, India’s biggest generator, is building a 1,320 megawatt coal-based power project in Bangladesh and is considering setting up another plant in Sri Lanka. Tata Power Co. Ltd., among India’s biggest private producers, has signed agreements to build two wind power projects in South Africa and has commissioned a 120 megawatt hydro project in Zambia.

Africa opportunities

“We have nothing beyond Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on our international agenda at the moment,” NTPC’s projects director, S.C. Pandey, said by phone. “But if you’re asking where the opportunities could be available, it will be Africa. They have coal and the demand is increasing.”

India’s coal-based power plants used 60.9% of their capacity in June, according to the power ministry’s central electricity authority. Plants operated by private companies and provincial governments reported an even lower utilization rate.

That has led to stockpiling of coal, which helps produce more than three-fourths of India’s electricity. Coal India Ltd., which accounts for more than 80% of India’s output, is also seeking markets to export the commodity.

“I don’t think it will have a big market internationally,” Goyal said of India’s coal, citing the high-ash content that makes it less attractive as a fuel. “Still, I have asked my people to start studying if we can export to some of the less-privileged or lesser-developed nations.” Bloomberg

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