State-run power producer NTPC has rolled back its decision to shut coal-based power plants that completed 25 years and more in operation, given that higher power demand can only be met through such power. The decision was also influenced by the power crisis in China that buttressed the significance of coal-fired power units, till storage-based technology takes root.
A senior company official told FE, “We do not plan to retire any of our old power plants nor can India afford at present to close any plant above 200 MW except those plants with high heat rate. Even if 500-GW renewable comes up by 2030, there will be peak demand for coal-based power. Unless there is remarkable development in storage-based generation, the demand for coal based power will exist,” the official said.
In 2017, NTPC chairman Gurdeep Singh and then Union power minister Piyush Goyal said that the company would gradually shut over 11,000 MW of coal-based power plants that were over 25 years old and replace some of these plants with efficient super critical plants, with less green house gas emissions. The capacity of old plants is expected to touch 17,000 MW in the next couple of years.
India’s largest power producer has since closed the 54-year-old 460-MW Talcher power plant in Odisha, the110-MW Phase-I of Kanti power plant at Muzzafarpur in Bihar; and plans to close one unit of the 110-MW at Barauni in Bihar. The life of the Kanti power plant in Bihar, as per the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), is over and was proving to be a “costly option” at `5 per unit for the Bihar government, when much cheaper options were available, the official said.
“We have not taken a final decision on Barauni power plant as of now, but that is also likely to be shut soon, given the high heat rate and its viability for the consumer,” the official added. Some of the power plants that are over 25 years and more include India’s largest 4,760-MW Vindhyachal Power Plant in Madhya Pradesh, 2000-MW Singrauli Power plant, 1,880 MW Dadri Plant and 1,550-MW Unchahar Plant in Uttar Pradesh.
“Most of our plants undergo regular operations maintenance, and do not require retrofits. Singrauli, which is 39 years old runs at 100% PLF,” the official said. NTPC has a total installed capacity is 67,907 MW, which includes around 58,000 MW of coal based capacity including those of joint venture companies.