The power ministry has decided to scrap 27 power generating units running below 40% plant load factor (PLF) in a bid to optimise fuel usage. A power ministry official told FE that units generating an aggregate 49,000 MW have been brought under review. These plants have been commissioned before 1989 and some of them have become coal guzzling, making operations economically unviable.
Units generating a total of 2,314 MW have to be completely scrapped while the rest would be made to run through introducing improved efficiency condition, a Central Electricity Authority (CEA) official said.
The CEA has submitted a report to the ministry, saying that 195 units of 55 coal-based stations generating more than 29,000 MW had an average PLF of 65%, which is much below NTPC’s national average of 83% in FY14. NTPC’s PLF has been kept as the country’s benchmark, which is much above the national average of 70%.
The CEA has identified 50 units generating a total of 5,729 MW, which operated at below 40% PLF for the last three years.
Of the 5,729 MW capacity, 2,314 MW capacity generated from 27 units — 22 in the state sector and 5 in the central sector — have been proposed for decommissioning in the first phase.
The ministry is yet to take any decision on scrapping the rest 23 units but these could be gradually decommissioned with new capacities coming up, the ministry official said.
Some state sector units, generating more than 5,000 MW, would be refurbished since these were operating between 50% and 65% PLF in the last three years. There were possibilities of bringing about a sustainable improvement in the PLF of those plants through proper maintenance, the official said.
However, the CEA report said that of the 49,000 MW brought under review, 10,200 MW of capacity were running at 80% PLF and around 7,500 MW of capacities were running between 65% and 80% PLF.
“The units, which have been decided for scrapping, are mostly 120 MW units or below and one such unit requires coal equivalent to running a 360 MW unit,” the ministry official said.
The ministry is expected to finalise plant-wise coal swapping this month. “Coal-linkage rationalisation has been given priority to address the shortage of coal supplies in power plants. Besides closing down inefficient units will generate some additional coal, which can be diverted to efficient power producing units,” CEA chairperson Neerja Mathur said.