Sustainable mining: Coal India Ltd off blocks in hunt for green energy

By: |
June 07, 2021 3:00 AM

Having bagged a 100-MW solar project in Gujarat, the company aims to build a 3,000-MW portfolio as part of its agenda to turn carbon-neutral by 2024

The company worked out the backward and forward integration process – from producing solar photovoltaic modules to selling the generated power – before it threw its hat into solar bidding in Gujarat.The company worked out the backward and forward integration process – from producing solar photovoltaic modules to selling the generated power – before it threw its hat into solar bidding in Gujarat.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) signed recently between the Coal India Ltd (CIL) and Gujarat Urja Vikash Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) for supply of solar power to Gujarat, though small in size as it pertains to a 100-MW plant in the state, marks an important milestone in its journey towards becoming a carbon-neutral company.

The PPA, signed for a tenure of 25 years, materialised after reverse auction bidding, with CIL quoting the lowest tariff of Rs 2.20 per unit among 10 bidders, which included experienced players like NTPC and SJVNL. The coal producer’s foray into solar generation would entail the development of a 100-MW solar power plant at an expenditure of Rs 442 crore in the state. The PPA signed towards the end of last month stipulates the 100-MW solar plant being operationalised and supplying power to GUVNL within 18 months of the inking of the agreement.

Coal India is executing the project through a solar EPC contractor, with the tender for the same having been issued. “The finalisation of the contractor is at an advance stage and the project will be executed within a year of the date of placement of the work order,” a CIL official says.

The company’s renewable foray is a part of its diversification agenda of becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2024, even as it increases its coal output to 1 billion tonne. The mining behemoth plans to power its mining operations through a 3,000-MW solar portfolio, which would include 14 ground-mounted and rooftop projects, thereby reducing its carbon footprint. It has earmarked an investment of Rs 13,400 crore to create a solar portfolio of 3,000 MW by 2024.

Two subsidiaries, CIL Solar PV Limited and CIL Navakarniya Urja Ltd, have been set up to push the green energy agenda. While CIL Solar PV Ltd will develop solar photovoltaic modules and similar other products, adding to the value chain, CIL Navikarniya Urja Ltd is mandated to develop non-conventional, clean, renewable energy sources, including solar power.

The company worked out the backward and forward integration process – from producing solar photovoltaic modules to selling the generated power – before it threw its hat into solar bidding in Gujarat. “We feel upbeat about emerging the winner in our maiden competitive bidding for solar power. We will aggressively participate in more such auctions in the future,” a company official says.

The two new subsidiaries floated by CIL add to the eight already in existence. The company subscribed to the shares of the new subsidiaries at a face value of Rs 10 each. As starter companies, the two subsidiaries are zero-value companies with capital work in progress. This is supposed to affect CIL’s Rs 32,138-crore net worth, though official sources deny any such impact, with investments being made as the renewable projects progress. The investments would be made through a mix of internal accruals, JVs and bank loans, the CIL official says, adding these would yield the company rich dividends given the prospects for renewable energy in the country.

Besides solar generation, the company’s diversification agenda includes implementation of coal to liquid projects, surface coal gasification, an increase in the number of washeries and mechanised transportation. Taken together, these would go a long way in mitigating the environmental damage caused by mining operations. A total investment of Rs 26,000 crore has been lined up by the company for the purpose.

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