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Cover Story | September 2015

India needs to modernise its existing plants

Anil Sardana, CEO & MD, Tata Power Ltd

Is there adoption of this technology in India?

As per GoI estimates, coal will continue to be the mainstay of power generation in India for the next decade. Efficient technologies like supercritical technology can play an advanced role in balancing between providing access to power to all its citizens with the need for emission control. Coal fired supercritical technology is an advancement towards achieving more efficiency in power generation. Supercritical technology offers reduced fuel costs due to improved plant efficiency, improvement of environment by reduction in CO2 emissions, in additions to much reduced NOx, Sox and other particulate emissions.

Even as the government has introduced and implemented various energy efficiency schemes and practices, one of the components of the National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is increasing efficiency in existing power plants, while promoting use of supercritical and ultra-supercritical boilers in power generation as much as viable under Indian conditions.

How will implementation of this technology help India in its promise to climate change?
India, presently needs to balance between increasing demand for electricity, as well as to improve coal utilisation efficiency and reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants. The use of supercritical technology can help us achieve these goals. Supercritical technology has helped a project like Mundra UMPP achieve higher efficiency, which saves fuel and reduces emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt hour of energy generated is about 750 grams of carbon dioxide per kWh, as compared to India´s national average of 1,259 g CO2/kWh for coal-based power plants. The world average is 919 g CO2/ kWh, while the average for OECD countries is 888 g CO2/ kWh (figures are for 2005).

As compared to any other subcritical power plant in India, Mundra UMPP, which has 5 units of 800 MW supercritical technology, avoids burning 1.7 million tonnes of coal per year, thus averting carbon emissions of 3.6 million tonnes per year.

What are the policies required for implementation of supercritical technology?
Higher unit size, increased steam parameters and steam temperatures for coal based power generation would help increase demand for efficient supercritical and ultra supercritical technologies.

Is India ready to adopt ultra supercritical technology as it comes with a high cost?
India definitely requires new technology. However, we first need to modernise existing plants, operationalise all existing capacity, ensure fuel supply for thermal generation. Moreover, the country needs to ensure that the existing power plants are viable and not struggling due to lack of tariff rationalisation in the power sector.

Can I have your views on possible technology development for carbon capture and its commercial viability in present scenario?
In line with the changing global scenario and the philosophy of our founders, Tata Power´s generation portfolio is being planned in a way that aims to greatly reduce overall carbon intensity. Various new technologies and upcoming and innovative, clean and renewable energy technologies are evaluated and reviewed for their potential applicability in the business.

At present we are exploring a variety of technologies, including Wind and Micro-Wind, Solar - thermal as well as PV (normal and concentrated), Biomass/Agri Waste based power generation, run of the river hydro, clean coal, Integrated Gasification and Combined Cycle, Advanced Geothermal and Carbon Capture using Algae. Other technologies, including ocean, tidal and wave energy being in a very nascent stage are also being tracked for future applications.

Tata Power is working with different national instituted like the Indian Institute of Technology, University Department of Chemical Technology in developing pilot and demonstration projects in the renewable resource power generation. We have already invested in two developing technologies for cleaning or coal and another in the advanced geothermal power generation system. Small pilot projects are implemented to demonstrate and evaluate the commercial applications.

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