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Business News/ Companies / News/  NLC India plans 24,000 crore solar investment by 2030: CMD
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NLC India plans ₹24,000 crore solar investment by 2030: CMD

After the recent incorporation of its green energy arm, NLC India Renewables Ltd, the company is exploring the option of setting up a step-down subsidiary

Prasanna Kumar Motupalli, chairman and managing director of NLC India.Premium
Prasanna Kumar Motupalli, chairman and managing director of NLC India.

New Delhi: State-run NLC India Ltd plans to set up a step-down subsidiary to operate its new-age renewable energy businesses, including battery storage. In an interview, Prasanna Kumar Motupalli, chairman and managing director of the company, said that after the recent incorporation of its green energy arm, NLC India Renewables Ltd, the company is exploring the option of setting up a step-down subsidiary, for which the public sector major would look at bringing private investments or getting it listed. He said the company would invest more than 24,000 crore in its solar power projects till 2030 to diversify operations. So far, the company has an installed solar capacity of 1.42 gigawatts (GW) with a capex of 6,000 crore. Edited excerpts:

As the country moves towards net zero, what is NLC’s roadmap for energy transition?

We have around 1,421MW of renewable capacity. NLC is the first central PSU to exceed 1GW of installation. We are targeting 6,000 MW+ by 2030. So, we are aggressively taking action to add capacity. Already we have tendered for many projects, and we awarded a 300MW solar plant in Rajasthan. And for the first time, we are doing 50MW solar installations in mine-reclaimed land at Neyveli. That is also already tendered. This is the first such project, a pilot project. We are going for 50MW, but there is a lot of scope to expand that and have up to 2,000MW.

We will be transferring whatever renewable projects we have to NLC India Renewables Ltd, which will be around 6,000 crore. And then, we have to add 4,000-4,500MW, which will have a capex of another 24,000 crore.

This 24,000 crore we require will be raised in the ratio of 80:20, wherein 80% will be debt, and 20% will be equity. Seeing the excellent credit ratings of NLC, getting credit will not be a problem. NLC will infuse the required equity through internal resources.

The 24,000 crore would largely go into your planned solar projects. As renewable is a diversified space, what other segments are you working on?

Already, we are pioneers in solar. We are also looking at wind. Then we are looking at green hydrogen, pump storage, and floating solar. We already have a pilot project for floating solar in one of our plants. We want to expand it to almost 100MW. We are also looking at a battery energy storage system. Already we have a battery storage system in Andaman & Nicobar which is in operation. So, we want to aggressively expand in that direction.

As on date, we have around 8MWh (megawatt hour) battery storage system in Andaman. Andaman (administration) is requesting another 20MWh, so we will be immediately going for that, and subsequently, we will be participating in the tenders wherever battery storage systems are tendered. The approximate capex for the 20MWh would be 240-250 crore.

Do you plan to list your recently launched renewable energy arm?

We will have one more subsidiary company under this company. So, we will invite investors, and that will be listed separately. It will be a step-down subsidiary. We are still exploring the different possibilities.

Will it look into new ventures, including battery storage?

Exactly.

What role would NLC play in India’s ambitious green hydrogen plans?

We are thinking of having a 4MW green hydrogen project in the Neyveli township itself. We already have a 10MW plant there, where 6MW is tied up and 4MW we kept for the green hydrogen. This green hydrogen project is a pilot project, and after that, we will expand that to further capacity. Capex for green hydrogen projects will depend on the outcome of the pilot project. After that, we will take the financial decision. We are consulting Engineers India Ltd for electrolyzers.

Despite the focus on energy transition, the dependence on conventional coal and lignite-based thermal plans is likely to continue for years ahead. Will we see an expansion of the thermal power portfolio?

We are contemplating adding 1,320MW with two 660MW super-critical lignite-based boilers. They would be installed in the Neyveli area. The tendering process is on. In addition to that, we are having 3 x 660MW plant at Ghatampur. It is in the advanced stage of commissioning. We are expecting to commission all three units in the current financial year. That will add around 1,980 MW to our capacity. Other than that, we have plans to install three 800MW units at Talabira, Odisha. In that also the tendering process is actively on, and we are doing the land acquisition for that. We will commission the Ghatampur project of 1,980MW in the current financial year, and the 2 x 660MW lignite-based super-critical units be awarded by December, and it will take 3.5 years for completion. The Talabira project will be awarded by October, which will also take 3.5 years to complete.

NLC also plans to set up a joint venture company along with Assam Power Development Co. Ltd for green power projects. What is the status of the proposed venture?

To increase our renewable energy capacity, we are tying up our hands with the Assam government. They requested us for that. We are tying up for a joint venture with the Assam government, APDCL. The joint venture formalities are on, and they are expected at any time. Once that is done, we will start tendering to install the projects there.

We have entered into a joint venture with Assam only. In other states, we will go ahead alone to install solar power stations. We are in discussion with Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. We will be installing our own plants.

What has been the progress in terms of the over-burden to sand projects?

We are aggressively moving ahead for OB (over-burden) to sand technology. As of today, the country is facing a lack of construction sand. We have huge reserves of OB. We have already awarded a contract for the conversion of OB to sand, construction quality sand. Production will be started at the earliest. Parallelly we are awarding projects in all our mines. We will be doing it on a large scale.

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Published: 30 Jun 2023, 11:53 PM IST
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