Coal-fired power generation is expected to grow 4.05 per cent during 2017-18, suggests Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in its latest estimates. Hydel on the other hand is expected to grow 5.52 per cent, while nuclear will grow only about 2.43 per cent during the same year.
CEA has estimated that coal-fired power plants are likely to generate 9,58,444 million units of power in 2017-18. In contrast it had estimated a total generation of 9,21,129 million units of power in 2016-17. About 89 per cent of the estimated power generation from coal-fired power plants has already been achieved between April 1, 2016 and January 2017.
The estimate pegs growth of conventional power generation, which includes thermal, nuclear, hydel and import from Bhutan, at 4.35 per cent during 2017-18.
Around 12,29,400 million units of power is likely to be generated from the conventional sources in 2017-18 against 11,78,000 million units in 2016-17.
Nevertheless, CEA has also estimated that all coal-based thermal power plants need to brace for drastic fall in capacity utilisation to as low as 48 per cent by 2022 as additional non-thermal electricity generation capacities come on stream.
CEA has predicted that by 2022 many plants may get partial or no schedule of generation at all – meaning many thermal power plants may have to be kept idle for lack of demand.
According to CEA, installed capacity from different fuel types at the end of 2021-22 in base case works out to be 523 gigawatt including 50 GW of coal based capacity addition currently under construction and likely to yield benefits during 2017-22.
“In order to accommodate high quantum of renewable energy into the grid, thermal plants are likely to run at low plant load factor (capacity utilisation) in future,” CEA predicted in its report.
In fact, it has suggested that a market mechanism through regulatory intervention needs to be evolved so that the owners of thermal plants are able to recoup the investment and at the same time, customers are not unnecessarily burdened with high tariff.
“Technical viability of plants goes for a toss if they run under 55 per cent capacity utilisation – a fact which is recognised by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. It is detrimental for the plant boilers and leads to drastic reduction in plant life,” said power sector experts.
“These plants are designed to run at very high capacity utilisation – around 85 per cent. When they runs much below full load, it consumes more coal leading to under recovery of energy charges, as regulations does not provide for this.”
“Plants without power purchase agreement for even a portion of their capacity are in for trouble. Reduction in capacity utilisation leads to decline in revenue income for the plant. At less than 60 per cent capacity utilisation the margin, which would otherwise provide for operating costs including interest cost, other than coal costs, would get wiped off. These plants are headed for trouble,” he said. Michael Pierce JerseyShare This