India backs $33 billion investment in new coal-fired power plant


Government officials in India have reportedly asked the country’s power companies to spend billions on equipment to support additional coal-fired generation. India is looking for ways to increase its baseload electricity supply more quickly as demand for electricity increases across the country. Reuters reported on July 3 that the Indian government is supporting procurements for as much as $33 billion worth of new equipment from both state-owned and private generation groups. Sources told Reuters that companies such as state-owned NTPC and SJVN, along with private groups such as Adani Power and Essar Power, would be asked to add as much as 31 GW of new electricity supply by the end of the decade. The sources told Reuters that a meeting hosted by Energy Minister Manohar Lal discussed speeding up orders for additional coal-fired power plants. The meeting came shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed a federal cabinet in early June. Reuters reported that one of the sources, who asked not to be named, said: “The last big orders for power equipment were placed for about 20 GW around 2009-10, when Chinese companies were grabbing a big pie.” Government data shows that India has been ordering about 2 GW to 3 GW of new coal-fired capacity annually in recent years, although that is set to increase to 10 GW of additional generation by 2023. India is adding renewable energy generation, including solar, but has struggled to meet electricity demand, particularly at night, due to the intermittent nature of renewables. The country has set records for electricity demand in the wake of the pandemic, with India among the world leaders in post-COVID economic growth. (caption id=”attachment_145312″ align=”alignnone” width=”640″)


India’s state-owned NTPC operates the country’s first ultra-supercritical (USC) coal-fired unit, which came online in 2019, at the 1,320-MW Khargone plant in Madhya Pradesh state. Courtesy: NTPC(/caption) The country, like many others, has also been hit by more intense heat waves in recent years, which has created more demand for power. Officials recently said that India last month saw its worst power supply-to-demand shortfall since 2010. The government is said to have postponed planned maintenance at some power plants and taken measures requiring power companies to buy imported coal and import electricity to prevent blackouts. Sources told Reuters that New Delhi-based and state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals, which has won all of the country’s power equipment contracts through auctions over the past year, is expected to receive the most contracts for new equipment. The sources said that Mumbai-based Larsen & ToubroThe country’s other power equipment maker, did not participate in the auctions last year. Equipment suppliers such as Thermax–Babcock, BGR–Hitachi and South Korea’s Doosan have closed their manufacturing facilities in India due to uncertainty over the market for future coal-fired power plants, according to Reuters. India has also asked power plants since 2020 not to enter into contracts with companies that share a border with China, partly by requiring the Indian government to approve all projects. Reuters reported in March this year that private groups in India were discussing building at least 10 GW of new coal-fired power plants over the next decade. —Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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