The government has identified old power projects totalling 7,738 mw capacity owned by the Centre and states for replacement with energy-efficient supercritical plants, which will generate a gross 18,560 mw. “The government has identified 7,738 mw inefficient thermal plants, which would be replaced with supercritical units, to conserve scarce natural resources like land, water and coal,” a senior official said. According to the official, the replacement will result in creation of 18,560 mw of capacity as per the assessment of power generation utilities. The move is expected to not just save natural resources, but help in boosting generation capacity of the plants.
Taking an example, the official added that 440 mw of the Haryana Power Generation Corporation in Panipat will be replaced with an 800-mw energy efficient plant, which will almost double the generation capacity. Breaking down the numbers, state power generation utilities have marked out 6,608 mw for the purpose, which will lead to creation of 16,580 mw. The central utilities have marked 1,130 mw for replacement that will create 1,980 mw, going forward. According to power ministry estimates, as on March 31, 2016, the capacity of coal-based thermal plants that are more than 25 years old was about 37,453 mw, including 35,509 mw in the government sector and 1,947 mw in private space.
The official said the move towards energy efficiency and less-polluting technology makes more sense than renovation and modernisation and will yield long-term benefits. The plan is being chalked out after stringent norms for thermal power plants were laid down by the environment ministry. The new guidelines for coal-based power stations were introduced in December 2015 to cut down emission of PM10, SO2 and NOx and improve ambient air quality around plants.
The ministry for the first time had fixed SOx and NOx norms for such stations and mandated that plants must adhere to these guidelines by 2017. According to industry estimate, the cost for technical changes at these plants could entail up to Rs 1.5 crore per megawatt. Besides, the domestic capacity to manufacture power equipment for the upgrade is not more than 15 gw a year compared to demand of around 40 gw per annum for meeting SOx norms alone.