The fuel from MCL are of lower grades with calorific value between 3,400 – 4,000 kilo calorie per kilogram (kcal/kg), while coal from ECL mines mostly have higher calorific value between 6,100 – 6,700 kcal/kg.
The 1,980 mega-watt (MW) Talwandi Sabo power plant is expecting high-quality low-ash coal supply from Coal India (CIL) in the coming weeks. The power plant, owned by Vedanta, had attributed restrictions on coal import imposed by the Centre as one of the major reasons for the frequent breakdown of its units, as it increased the dependence on domestic coal which has high ash content.
Under fuel supply agreement with CIL, the generating station has been lifting coal from Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL) since FY15. “The plant has been allocated higher grades of coal from Eastern Coalfields (ECL) under import substitution,” CIL told FE. The fuel from MCL are of lower grades with calorific value between 3,400 – 4,000 kilo calorie per kilogram (kcal/kg), while coal from ECL mines mostly have higher calorific value between 6,100 – 6,700 kcal/kg.
After all the three units of the plant — which is the largest source of power in Punjab — broke down, the state government had to impose restrictions of its industrial consumers, permitting them to draw only 50% of power capacity allocated to them from July 8. However, with one of the 660 MW units coming back online, and the recent rains lowering electricity demand, the restrictions have been lifted.
The Talwandi Sabo power plant had imported 894 thousand tonne of high quality coal for blending with domestic fuel in FY20, but has not imported any coal since the start of FY21. “As a part of Atmanirbhar Bharat, Central government asked not to import coal and assured of low ash import substitute coal from coal mines in India,” a spokesperson of Vedanta’s Talwandi Sabo Power said.
Though the government had asked thermal power plants to reduce coal imports, a sector expert requesting anonymity pointed out that “there is no ban per se on coal imports, and plants are free to source the fuel from outside if need arises”. The Talwandi Sabo plant is not coal strapped and as on July 11, had 28 days of stock of the fuel. However, it was the quality of the fuel and not the quantity which the company had problems with.