A report from stakeholders in Delhi’s power supply wants five of the city’s power stations either shut down or moved out for being too expensive or polluting or both. But acting on these recommendations will be tough given the city’s ever-growing demand for electricity, peaking at 6,500MW in summer. Kaunain Sheriff M reports
The city’s power infrastructure is likely to undergo a complete overhaul later this year with the Delhi Power Procurement Group (DPPG) and the state-run State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC) recommending a slew of changes to the government. If the AAP government accepts these recommendations and has its way, the capital could see the shutting down of five power plants — Badarpur thermal power station, Rajghat power station, Pragati power station, Indraprastha Power Generation Corporation Limited’s (IPGCL) gas turbine plant and the Rithala power plant.
As Power Minister Satyendra Jain had earlier sought recommendations from various stakeholders on the closure of expensive power units in the capital, the recommendations gain more importance, as the group has cited “expensive” operating cost as the main reason for closing them.
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If the following recommendations are accepted by the government, the focus then would be on establishing and fast-tracking the long-pending transmission lines that need to be in place before these plants are shut down. “What this also means is that the government has to spend more on enhancing the transmission system. Besides, the focus will now have to shift on modernising the infrastructure,” a senior official of the power department said.
The forum has also recommended the scrapping of the Pragati power station and Gas Turbine Station, and their reallocation to the Bawana plant. If this is done, then the controversial Bawana plant — the costliest source of power supply in the capital — is likely to run on its full capacity, leading to cheaper power. The Bawana plant has an installed capacity of 1,500 MW. However, it is currently running at 300 MW.
Whether done for reason of saving cost or improving the city’s air quality, shutting the plants will bring its own set of problems. Delhi’s peak demand over the summer is expected to reach 6,500 MW, so the pressure on the distribution companies to provide cheap and reliable power is high. The question for the government and suppliers then is: if the existing plants that meet a part of this demand are shut, from where is electricity-hungry Delhi going to get its supply?
Delhi Transco Limited (DTL) has “cautioned” stakeholders that at present, only 20 to 30 per cent internal generation is available in Delhi and with “any further reduction in generation at load centres”, the reliability of power supply would definitely be affected. It has also warned that the operation of the much publicised Delhi Islanding Scheme — which was devised to safely island the Delhi power system from the grid in case of any grid eventuality — would be “affected severely in case of closing down of all such load”. However, the distribution utilities have put the onus on the transmission department to take care of such “remote chances” of grid eventualities, stating that it is not proper to “force the distribution utilities to utilise such costlier generation thereby burdening the consumers”.
1. Badarpur Thermal Power Station
Shut down the 40-year-old plant, stop funds for renovation and modernisation
The Discoms, including the government-run municipal body New Delhi Municipal Council, have stated that this plant should be shut down, considering it has already completed its “useful life”. However, the most contentious recommendation has been that of the renovation and modernisation (R&M) activities carried out at the plant.
The forum has decided to recommend to the state government to take up the matter with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to “avoid infusion of additional funds for R&M activities for the already outlived inefficient plant”. The recommendations come in the context of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) order, where it was suggested that two units of the plant would be renovated for extending its life by 20 years. The R&M cost was pegged at Rs 741 crore. It was also suggested by the CERC in the 2011 order that the 95 MW units should be phased out and the minimum capital should be infused for ensuring their operation till the units are fully phased out.
The 705 MW plant have five units installed. The first three units run on a capacity of 95 MW each and the remaining two units have an installed capacity of 210 MW each. These three units are considered to be most non cost-effective. The beneficiary discoms have insisted that if it is not possible to close the entire plant, at least all three-95MW units “should be closed permanently” after September 2015.
The Alternative: The alternative provided is the commissioning of the 220kV Tughlakabad system, which is under progress. “The transmission system can be improved only after commissioning of 400kV Tughlakabad System, which is being established under Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) and commissioning of 220kV outlet from the station,” the forum has said.
2. IP Gas Turbine Power Station
Too costly, too old, shut it down
In case of IP Gas Turbine Power station, the distribution utilities want an “immediate” shut down of the plant, stating that it has “already completed its useful life”. The 270 MW capacity plant was commissioned in 1986. Distribution utilities have said, currently, the cost of running the plant is “very high” — approximately Rs 5.50 per unit.
The power plant has six gas turbines of 30 MW capacity each and three steam turbines of the same capacity. However, it is the only plant in the capital that has the “black start facility” — a process of restoring a power station to be operational without relying on the external electric power transmission network. While the black start facility is a very important one, considering the need for uninterrupted supply during summers, discoms have stated this is a “very rare process” and running the plant throughout the year puts “burden on the consumer (which is) neither justified nor desirable”.
The Alternative: “In case, it is required to be in operation for ensuring black start facility, only one block — two gas turbines and one steam turbine — is sufficient. The other two should be closed forever from October 2015 and gas allocation should be diverted to Bawana Gas plant,” the report says.
3.Rajghat Power Plant
Shut it down for environmental reasons
Citing “environmental issues”, the forum has recommended a complete closure of this 26-year-old Rajghat plant with an installed capacity of 135 MW. “Environmental issues are being encountered in running the units. The units have also outlived their usual life due to ageing and the efficiency of the plant has also come down. Last summer, the plant could not deliver 60 per cent of its capacity,” the forum said.
The Alternative: The forum said with the commissioning of the 220kV Patparganj-Ghazipur link and the possibility of reconductoring the 220kV Wazirabad-Geeta Colony line, the closure of the units won’t cause transmission constraints.
4.Rithala Gas Turbine
No gas for two years, shut it down
Having missed the 2009 deadline for commissioning the gas plant in Rithala, Tata-owned discom TPDDL had successfully started generating power just before the start of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. However, due to the non-availability of gas for the last two years, and the station is not in operation. The forum has recommended the discom to immediately shut it down.
“Considering the overall situation of gas in the country and to avoid the burdening the fixed charges…the forum advises TPDDL to decommission the plant immediately,” the forum recommended. It has three units of 36 MW each with a total capacity of 108 MW. The gas requirement of about 0.4 million SCM/day was to be met from the K G Basin and 0.2 million SCM/day from the Qatar source of GAIL. GAIL had also constructed a spur pipeline for the purpose. The decision to recommend the closure of the plant came after TPDDL informed the forum that neither the tariff nor the Power Purchase Adjustment Cost (PPAC) has been approved by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).
5. Pragati Power Station
Better transmission system not yet commissioned, transfer it to the efficient Bawana plant
The group has recommended its shutdown due to high generation cost. Distribution companies had expressed resentment of continuous operation of the plant due to “non-commissioning of transmission system”, that was earlier planned to get rid off costly generation. The plant, which was commissioned in 2002, has a 330 MW capacity. The primary fuel for a gas turbine is natural gas being supplied by state owned GAIL. The forum has recommended that the gas allocation of the entire station be diverted to the Bawana Gas turbine.
The alternative: While asking for diverting this plant to Bawana plant, as a short-term plan, the forum has recommended the establishment of the proposed 400kV ISTS at RPH. “After the commissioning of 400 KV ISTS at RPH, the entire Pragati Stage -1 station may be closed if the generating company could not assure cheap gas to run the plant.”