Despite enjoying surplus power generation capacity, the Gujarat government is consolidating its power plants running on conventional technologies. The government is planning to either upgrade plants with sub-critical technology or replace these with new super-critical technology.
According to state government sources, the move, though at a planning stage, is being made to not only reduce the cost of power generation but also enhance capacity utilisation of some of the old units at the power plants.
The plan to upgrade or replace technologies comes in the wake of the recent setting up of super-critical technology at a coal-based thermal power plant at Wanakbori in Kheda district by the Gujarat government. While the plant has a power generation capacity of 1,470 Mw in sub-critical technology, an additional 800-Mw capacity is being set up under super-critical technology at a project cost of Rs 4,465 crore by the state government.
The Wanakbori plant has seven generation units, some of which are as old as 30 years.
According to senior officials, the plan to upgrade technology of some under-performing power plants is in the proposal stage. "The plan is still on the drawing board and proposals are being made. So far, no decision has been taken about which plants to be upgraded or altogether be replaced with super-critical technology," a senior official said.
An energy department official said: "Improved and supercritical coal-based units with higher capacity, better efficiency, low supplementary power consumption and low heat rate are available."
Super-critical power generation technology consumes 25 per cent less coal than sub-critical plants and brings down the cost of production from Rs 3 a unit to Rs 2.40 a unit.
According to the official, the government is considering setting up a new super-critical power unit at Dhuvaran in Anand district. The plant has an installed capacity of 220 Mw.
"Dhuvaran will possibly have the second super-critical thermal power generation unit in Gujarat with a capacity of 800 Mw. The government is considering it and will take some time to decide," said an official of Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL).
According to GSECL, the state has generation capacity of about 24,000 Mw, while demand is 10,000-13,000 Mw, depending on the season. Of this, consumption among industries remains at 5,000-5,500 Mw. However, consumption by the agriculture sector varies from 2,500-3,000 Mw during the normal season to 4,000-4,500 Mw during the sowing season. On the other hand, residential consumption stands at 3,000-3,200 Mw during the summer season and 2,000 Mw during other seasons.
Also, of the total 24,000 Mw, Gujarat produces 19,000 Mw through conventional source of energy, wherein 10,000 Mw is generated by the government and 9,000 Mw by private players. The state has renewable power generation capacity of about 5,000 Mw, of which nearly 20 per cent is generated by the government and the rest by private entities.
"We will see whether upgradation is possible at an affordable rate or not. Moreover, we also need to ascertain the efficiency levels we are likely to achieve after such transition," the energy department official added.
According to the official, some of the old plants are still in good condition. The Gandhinagar, Sikka and Ukai thermal power plants, for instance, are under the government scanner for upgradation.