India's largest power producer, NTPC Ltd, is giving the final touches to a plan to build an 800-MW advanced ultra-critical power plant at a location yet to be finalised.
The state-owned company has roped in the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, or IGCAR, and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) as partners in the project. The research and development work for the project has already started.
The project is designed to pump electricity into the grid in about seven years. "It will further increase efficiency and save coal," says DK Jain, Director (Technical) with the company.
NTPC, which accounts for a fifth of the country's installed capacity with 34,854 MW a year, hopes to raise this figure to 75,000 MW in six years and 1,28,000 MW by 2032.
The company has already moved from the subcritical to supercritical technology so that it can generate more electricity without an increase in the amount of coal burnt. For example, if a 4000 MW station is built using the supercritical technology, instead of subcritical, the developer uses up a million tonnes less of coal every year. The energy output is almost 5 per cent more for the same amount of coal.
"Between our 200 MW Singroli station in Uttar Pradesh, built in 1978, and the recent 660 MW Barh-II unit in Bihar, we have reduced the heat rate and the coal consumption by 12 per cent. In the same period, auxiliary power consumption (internal power consumption by a plant) has come down from 8-10 per cent to 5-6 per cent of power generated by the plants," Jain says.
NTPC, which owns captive coal mines, hopes to meet 25 per cent of its annual coal requirement from these mines in five years.
On the recent rise in coal prices - the prices went up by a sharp 30 per cent last February after staying flat for six years - Jain says: "The pace of increase in coal prices is much sharper than the reduction in coal consumption."
NTPC would consume about 180 million tonnes of coal this financial year and has plans to get 16-20 million tonnes from overseas.