Japan to help India with modernizing power plants

Japan to help India with modernizing power plants

New Delhi: Japan Coal Energy Center, or JCOAL, is close to signing an agreement with India’s apex power sector planning body for the renovation and maintenance of old and inefficient power plants to reduce carbon emissions, a top official said.

“A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between CEA (Central Electricity Authority) and JCOAL is expected to be signed shortly," said a senior official at CEA. “Once the MoU is signed, projects will be identified for renovation and modernization."

Another CEA official who didn’t want to be identified confirmed the development. The officials didn’t provide more details.

A JCOAL spokesperson, in an email reply to Mint, declined to comment as internal processes for the MoU were still being worked on, and suggested contacting CEA.

JCOAL works in the area of coal mining and utilization to cut down the emission of carbon dioxide, which causes large-scale climate change.

India has been ranked fourth among contributors to global carbon dioxide emissions (9%) by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, even though its emissions are low on a per capita basis.

The country has an installed power generation capacity of 156,784MW, 52.36% of which is fired by coal.

CEA has already identified power plants, with a combined capacity of around 30,000MW, for retrofitting or repair. Many of the old plants are in states that are unable to finance renovation and maintenance.

The power ministry is considering using a 3,000 kilocalorie (kcal)-limit to generate a unit of electricity as the upper-end to identify inefficient plants; efficient power units typically run at 2,300-2,400 kcal a unit.

Proposals such are these are part of the government’s efforts to burn coal cleanly.

India has already commissioned an initiative to set up so-called integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, plants to convert coal into a cleaner fuel that can then be burned in a gas turbine combined cycle to generate electricity.

A conventional power plant costs around Rs5 crore per MW to build.

An IGCC plant costs twice as much.

The power sector is the biggest consumer of coal in the country, absorbing nearly 78% of the total production.

The estimated annual coal demand for power projects in the country by 2012 is 544 million tonnes (mt), but a shortage of 62 mt is expected by then as the domestic availability would be around 482 mt, according to government projections.

Using available coal more efficiently is seen as one solution to bridge this shortfall.

The demand for coal is expected to touch 1 billion tonnes by 2018.