The Union government has firmed up plans to shut down some 11,000 mw of thermal power generation capacities that are at least 25 years old and build bigger plants with total capacity of at least 20,000 mw on the same tract of land for estimated investments of Rs 70,000 crore, officials said.
The roadmap for shuttering at least 100 old units with capacities ranging from 60 mw to 220 mw was given a preliminary shape at a recent meeting between the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and state utilities. In their place, some 30-odd super critical units ranging between 660 mw and 800 mw will come up, CEA officials said.
This will lead to a savings of about Rs 40,000 crore on land acquisition as well infrastructure cost like rail and water linkages along with facilities like ash pond and power evacuation lines, they said. Coal supplied to the old plants would be fed into the units that would replace them.
It is estimated that a total capacity of about 36,000 mw in the country is more than 25 years old and these units could be replaced in phased manner Some of these plants are in good running conditions and have just undergone renovation and maintenance, allowing them to run for a few more years. However, all such plants will have to eventually down shutter and be replaced by new super critical units, CEA officials said.
They said replacement of old units by new super critical units was being encouraged by the government and the ministry of coal had already issued guidelines for automatic transfer of coal linkage from old and inefficient units to new super critical units.
"During the13th plan period, generation capacity of about 86,400 mw is likely to be added primarily through super critical units. Land being scarce, utilities need to explore possible options to utilise the existing land and other facilities in most effective manner," a senior power department official said.
"Thermal power units marked for closure are primarily ones that are faring very poorly in terms of capacity utilisation as well as other parameters. All such plants have been marked for closure by the government," the official said. According to data furnished by CEA, replacing sub-critical, old and inefficient thermal units with super critical units would enable effective utilisation of already available scarce resources like land, water and coal.