In order to meet the ambitious target of achieving 68,700 megawatt (MW) in the next five years, the Centre is planning to raze inefficient old power plants and use the sites for setting up more efficient and large-sized projects.
Many of these old plants are in ideal locations in terms of access to coal, a major ingredient in generating power.
NTPC Ltd, India’s largest power generation company, has already started off the process with the Bongaigaon power project in Assam. The old 240MW plant has been scrapped, and three new units of 250 MW each are now being set up on the same site.
Many power plants are rather old and nearly obsolete, so “it has been proposed that the coal linkages of the old power plants should be transferred to the new units”, said a power ministry official, who did not want to be quoted.
India has a power generation capacity of 1,28,182 MW. The estimated annual coal requirement for various power projects in the country by 2012 is 544 million tonnes (mt). It is estimated that there will be a shortage of 62 mt by then, as the domestic availability will be around 482 mt.
Using existing coal linkages is being seen as one of the solutions to achieve the power generation growth trajectory.
The ministry is considering using 3,000 kilo calorie per unit as the upper limit to identify such plants. Most of these old power plants are with the states, where not enough investments have been made on renovation and maintenance.
“Though the capital costs of the new plants will be much higher, it needs to be done to help in achieving the targeted power generation. However, the option of modernizing these plants will have to be explored before scrapping the older stations,” an NTPC executive said.
The Bongaigaon power plant was earlier under the Assam State Electricity Board, but now the existing infrastructure has been transferred to NTPC.
After conducting feasibility studies, the company concluded that any attempt to modernize the old power facility would not improve its generation efficiency.