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Updated by Power Line on Nov 25, 2018
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Coal-Based Power News

Marking a First - Welcome to Power Line

NTPC Limited, the country’s largest power generation company, listed its $6 billion (Rs 400 billion) medium-term note (MTN) programme on the India International Exchange (India INX) at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City). With this, NTPC became India’s first quasi-sovereign company to list on the exchange. The listing, which was done on January 24, 2018 on the Global Securities Market (GSM) of the exchange, will help the company raise funds at lower costs from international investors and allow foreign investors to access good quality Indian debt.

In a Flux - Welcome to Power Line

One of the key comments in this year’s Economic Survey was regarding aggressive bidding in the coal block auctions. “In the case of spectrum, coal and renewables, auctions may have led to a winner’s curse, whereby firms overbid for assets, leading to adverse consequences in each of the sectors,” it stated.

Liquid Fuel Trends - Welcome to Power Line

While coal continues to remain the mainstay of power generation in the country, liquid fuels account for a small yet significant proportion of the power generated. Amongst these, diesel is the most preferred option owing to its high energy density and relative ease of availability. Diesel generator (DG) sets continue to dominate the backup power solutions market due to their fuel efficiency and lower capex. However, the fuel costs are relatively high in this case. Although DG sets in the country are run primarily on high speed diesel (HSD), a range of other fuels can also be used for the purpose. These include light diesel oil (LDO), low sulphur heavy stock (LSHS) and furnace oil (FO).

Financial Briefs - Welcome to Power Line

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (Powergrid) has entered into a term loan facility agreement for Rs 100 billion with the State Bank of India (SBI). The loan will be earmarked for meeting Powergrid’s capital expenditure needs for the expansion, renovation and development of various ongoing and new transmission lines.

Growth Positive - Welcome to Power Line

Despite the declining power deficit, the demand for diesel generator (DG) sets and engines is expected to stay strong, led by an increase in backup power requirements due to growing urbanisation and higher government spending on the infrastructure sector.

Design Modifications Towards cleaner diesel generators and engines

Diesel generators (DGs) are being used across industries as an alternative to grid power to support their operations. In recent years, several technological innovations have been undertaken in DG sets in order to reduce noise, control emissions, and increase power output and efficiency.

Flat Growth - Welcome to Power Line

Despite being one of the most promising options for power generation, hydropower technology has witnessed limited uptake in India. The country’s total installed hydropower capacity stood at 44,963.42 MW as of November 2017, representing only about 30 per cent of the estimated potential (around 148 GW) and only 13.58 per cent of the total installed power generation capacity. Further, projects aggregating 11 GW are currently under execution.

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The declining share of hydropower in the country’s energy mix and insufficient hydro capacity addition over the years necessitate the government to take some strong policy actions to drive growth in the segment.

Damage Control - Welcome to Power Line

Delhi and other parts of north-western India made headlines for all the wrong reasons recently.  Most of the region was enveloped by smog for several days, owing in large part to the burning of unutilised paddy straw remains by farmers in Punjab and Haryana. Among the several measures being taken to combat pollution in the northern states, the Ministry of Power (MoP) has notified the “Biomass Utilisation for Power Generation through Co-firing in Pulverised Coal fired Boilers” policy. Biomass co-firing at coal-based power plants is one of the most effective ways to manage the stubble. The policy suggests that all power plants/utilities with fluidised bed and pulverised coal units (except those having a ball and tube mill) should use 5-10 per cent blend of biomass pellets (made of agro residue) along with coal, after assessing the technical feasibility.

State Scenario - Welcome to Power Line

Around 73 per cent of the country’s hydropower potential aggregating 148 GW is concentrated in five states – Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka and Uttarakhand. Amongst these, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest potential of over 50 GW, that is, almost one-third of the total hydroelectric potential in the country. The development of this potential, however, presents a different picture. Merely 405 MW of capacity is operational in the state, which is less than 1 per cent of its potential. On the other hand, hydro-rich states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with 18 GW of potential each have harnessed nearly 53 per cent and 21 per cent of their hydropower capacity respectively. Meanwhile, in Jammu & Kashmir, nearly 23 per cent of the state’s 14 GW hydropower potential has been exploited and in Karnataka, the operational hydropower capacity represents 57 per cent of its potential of 6.6 GW.

Transmission Network in India

Over the years, there has been a significant improvement in the load balancing and peak load management ability of the power system, with the integration of the regional grids and the streamlining of network frequencies. However, the country has the inadequate peaking capacity with quick response characteristics. This is critical in the context of large-scale renewable energy capacity coming on board in the next few years. Hydroelectric projects (HEPs) with quick start and zero load operation capabilities are ideal for meeting peak load and balancing needs. Conventional reservoir-type hydropower plants and pumped storage power plants (PSPs) can provide the full range of grid-stabilizing services in view of their ability to manipulate operation within a few minutes in response to a demand or generation fluctuations.

Time Overruns - Welcome to Power Line

The hydropower segment in India has consistently fallen short of achieving the prescribed capacity addition targets every year since 2008-09. During the Twelfth Plan period (2012-17), around 5,479 MW of capacity was added against the targeted addition of 6,247 MW. In 2017-18, about 278 MW of hydro capacity has been added till October 2017 against the annual target of 1,305 MW. The low capacity addition can be attributed to delays in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) issues, lengthy environmental approval processes and geological surprises that hamper project development. As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), around 38 hydropower projects aggregating 11,650.5 MW are facing delays with significant time and cost overruns, as of November 2017.

Need to Scale Up - Welcome to Power Line

Off-grid renewable energy systems are increasingly being viewed as a means to provide sustainable and cheap electricity to the vast sections of the country that are yet to be connected to the main grid, especially villages spread over difficult terrain. On the policy front, a number of rural support schemes and programmes have been launched in the past with the aim of providing basic energy access through off-grid solutions to remote regions. However, their progress has been hampered by delayed procurements and erratic implementation on the ground.

Hope for SHP - Welcome to Power Line

The small-hydro power (SHP) industry has experienced limited growth over the past one year, but a strong debate over a government proposal has brought the segment back into the limelight. The government is mulling over bringing large hydropower projects, of over 25 MW capacity, under the ambit of renewable energy by clubbing them together with SHP projects (of less than 25 MW capacity). The difference between the two is that while SHP projects do not require the construction of a dam, large hydro projects typically require a dam.

Strong Tailwinds - Welcome to Power Line

Wind power development in the country started in 1986, with the setting up of the first wind farms in Maharashtra (Ratnagiri), Gujarat (Okha) and Tamil Nadu (Tirunelveli). Despite several challenges, the segment has recorded significant growth. Today, India represents the fourth largest wind market globally, both in terms of cumulative capacity and annual additions. Amongst renewables, wind power accounts for over 57 per cent of the installed capacity, with over 32 GW installed till end-March 2017.

Tariffs Plunge - Welcome to Power Line

The Indian solar market has come a long way since 2009-10 when it began with the installation of modest capacity of around 10 MW. The segment has grown rapidly over the years to reach the current installed capacity of over 12 GW. The key growth drivers of installed solar capacity have been falling solar tariffs, declining equipment costs, growing experience in the field, and policy and regulatory support from the government. The market has also matured in terms of tariffs, from being unaffordable to achieving grid parity. Solar tariffs have declined by almost 80 per cent over the past five to six years. From Rs 11-Rs 12 per kWh in 2010-11, solar tariffs have dropped to a record low of Rs 2.44 per kWh as discovered in the recent 500 MW Bhadla Solar Park (Phase III) tender.

Record Additions - Welcome to Power Line

Renewable energy has experienced tremendous growth in the past one year, with its cumulative installed capacity surpassing that of hydroelectric power. As of March 2017, the country’s total renewable energy capacity stood at around 52 GW, accounting for 16 per cent of the total installed capacity as against hydro projects, which stood at 14 per cent. The growth in capacity can be mainly attributed to the favourable regulations and policies for achieving the 175 GW renewable energy target by 2022. Factors such as continuous fall in capital costs and a conducive business environment at the central and state levels have also helped drive the growth. Until recently, the renewable energy sector was driven by grants and subsidies. However, with the government eliminating generation-based incentives (GBIs) and  reducing accelerated depreciation (AD) benefits from 80 per cent to 40 per cent from April 2017, the sector is fast moving towards self-sustainability.

Consolidation Wave - Welcome to Power Line

Lack of access to finance has been a long-standing hurdle in the path of renewable energy growth. Where capital has been available, the terms have often been unfavourable for long-term sustainability. However, with a growing influx of funds into the sector over the past few years, access to competitive capital seems to be improving. A look at the key deals in the renewables space in 2016-17…

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Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of power generation in the US and is providing substantial economic and health benefits along with energy security. According to the Energy Information Administration, wind generation accounted for 4.7 per cent of the total electricity production capacity of nearly 74 GW in 2015. This represents a doubling of the share of wind generation from 2.3 per cent in 2010. Given the recent increase in wind energy penetration across the country, curtailment of variable wind generation has become more widespread. While curtailment of generation is normal in a complex power system, owners of wind power plants, which entail no fuel costs, are concerned about its impact on project economics.

Towards Viability - Welcome to Power Line

With the increasing share of renewable energy in total generation arises the need to optimise generation and maintain grid reliability. One of the solutions for addressing the challenges of large-scale renewable integration and enabling enhanced grid balancing is to have electricity storage systems. Recognising this, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) developed a staff paper on “Introduction of Electricity Storage System in India” in January 2017. Apart from written suggestions, CERC sought stakeholders’ views through various discussions and forums. One such stakeholder consultation was organised by The Energy and Resources Institute, a Delhi-based think tank, with the support of the CERC in March 2017.

Remote Operation - Welcome to Power Line

Hydropower plants are generally considered most suitable for remote operation the world over as they are relatively simpler to operate compared to thermal or gas power plants. Moreover, digitalisation of these plants can further reduce operational complexities. In India, the Koldam hydropower plant, NTPC Limited’s maiden hydropower project in Himachal Pradesh, is the first of its kind to be operated remotely from a distance of 400 km, that is, from its control centre in Delhi. Power Line presents a glimpse of this unique project…

Pilot Success - Welcome to Power Line

An important development in India’s smart grid journey has been the launch of pilot projects by the government to test and demonstrate the benefits of various smart grid functionalities. One such project is being implemented by Rajasthan state discom Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (AVVNL) to demonstrate the benefits of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in automatic energy audit and loss reduction analytics, including energy theft monitoring and tamper alerts. The project, covering about 1,000 consumers, was initiated in January 2016 and concluded in March 2017, becoming the first successful smart grid pilot.

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Sweet Savings - Welcome to Power Line

Sugar manufacturers that are grappling with issues such as declining sugarcane production, rising raw material costs, increasing energy cost and stringent emission norms can undertake energy conservation measures to achieve cost optimisation. Energy consumption at a sugar manufacturing facility is mainly on account of process heating and running various turbo drives. The sugar industry has a unique advantage of utilising bagasse, a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process, as a fuel to produce electricity and steam by cogeneration.

Growth in Renewables - Welcome to Power Line

The renewable energy segment presents an attractive investment opportunity in the power sector with record capacity additions, declining tariffs and growing private sector participation. In 2016-17, 11.3 GW of renewable capacity was added, comparable with thermal capacity additions of 11.5 GW during the year. As of end-October 2017, the installed renewable energy capacity stood at over 60 GW, accounting for 18 per cent of the total installed power capacity.