State-owned thermal power plants in Gujarat that use coal as fuel, last year, recorded a plant load factor (PLF) of a mere 41 per cent. This poor capacity utilisation was largely because the four power plants — having a combined power generating capacity of 4190 MW — cut its coal procurement by 35 per cent and generated less power.
The four state-owned power plants that use coal as fuel — Ukai, Gandhinagar, Wanakbori and Sikka — had a PLF (output of a power plant compared to the maximum output it could produce) of just 41 per cent in 2016. This was even lower than the PLF of 53.65 per cent recorded in 2015, official sources said.
These four plants used 39.17 lakh metric tonne less coal than what they did in 2015 and generated less power. “In order to run the thermal power plants that use coal as a fuel, the Gujarat government has inked an agreement with Coal India Limited (CIL) for annual procurement of 174 lakh metric tonne of coal. As per the power demand, in the year 2015, over 110 metric tonne of coal was procured. In 2016, over 71 lakh metric tonne of coal was procured,” the state government informed the Gujarat Assembly during the ongoing budget session, through a written reply to a question raised by MLA Sailesh Parmar.
Power produced by these state-run power utilities had saw a drop when compared to the 2015. According to the data tabled by the state government, the Gandhinagar thermal power plant that generated 1,415 million units of power in 2015 ended up producing just 735 units of power in 2016.
Similarly, Wankbori produced 4,812 million units of power in 2015. However, the production dropped to 2,818 million units in 2016. The only state-run thermal power plant to produce more power was Sikka which generated 877 million units more in 2016, than what it did the previous year.
In response to an email questionnaire, H N Baxi, executive director (generation) of the Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd (GSECL), said, “Yes, the power production declined in Ukai, and Wanakbori plants in 2016, as compared to 2015. The capacity declaration (Plant Availability Factor) by the above power plants during 2015 and 2016 was 83.52 per cent and 84.84 per cent respectively, whereas the PLF achieved by these four power stations during the year 2015 and 2016 was 53.65 per cent and 40.95 per cent, respectively.”
“The reason for lower coal procurement during 2016 as compared to 2015 was lower coal-based generation from these four power plants of the GSECL due to lower schedule given by by the state load despatch centre (SLDC) on account of merit order dispatch as per which cheaper power is scheduled first,” Baxi added.
In other words, the high cost of coal procured for these thermal plants have proved to be a deterrent in coal production. “There are as many as 59 power generators in Gujarat (except renewable sector), which include private and government players. The power produced by these four plants is expensive and so, the government opts to buy cheaper power provided by other players, including the private sector,”a state government official said on conditions of anonymity.
“The cost of coal plays a big role. A large portion of our coal still comes from Chhattisgarh. It is only from last November that we have begun benefiting from the coal swap agreement inked with NTPC,” the official added. In order to bring down the transportation cost of coal, Gujarat in 2014 had inked a coal-swap agreement with NTPC.