India: NTPC to award contract to construct 1,320 MW coal-fired plant

This is the first time in six years NTPC will be calling for bids for new coal-fired capacity.

NTPC will also consider awarding contracts for two previously stalled expansion projects at its Lara and Singrauli sites in central India. After a long gap, India plans to build new coal-fuelled power generation capacity with the country’s largest electricity generator NTPC Ltd all set to call bids for three such plants to meet the growing demand for electricity. According to a company official aware of the plan, NTPC will this month award a contract to construct a 1,320-megawatt coal-fired supercritical plant in Talcher, Odisha.

This is the first time in six years NTPC will be calling for bids for new coal-fired capacity after the generator decided to set up only greenfield renewable capacities to take up its fossil fuel and renewable generation mix to 50:50 by 2032 from the present share of fossil fuel of about 80%. The focus back on coal-fired plants is also in the wake of the country’s worsening power crisis and the ability of fossil fuel-based plants to maintain grid stability and frequency amidst wide-scale mismatch in demand and supply.

NTPC didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment on Tuesday.

The country is grappling with a power crisis as unusually hot summer in early months shored up power demand while fuel supplies to power stations remained sluggish, leaving several stations with critically low coal stocks. The demand-supply mismatch resulted in several parts of the country plunging into darkness with state utilities resorting to power cuts of up to 8 hours a day in several areas. Though the marginal dip in temperatures in north India has reduced power demand for now, the long summer ahead may trigger a crisis situation again.

“NTPC’s decision to revive plants to put up its announced coal-fired stations is a good development as coal will continue to be the mainstay of the country’s power system for a long time and it makes sense to fully utilise this potential before relying on other fuel mixes,” said a power analyst from one of the four big audit and consultancy firms asking not to be named.

In Talcher, NTPC proposes to award 1,320 MW of capacity with two supercritical units of 660 MW each. In Talcher, NTPC was operating one of its oldest plants, a 460 MW unit that was shut last year in March after 54 years.

At Lara in Chhattisgarh, NTPC planned 4,000 MW coal capacity with an investment of over ₹20,000 crore but is operating just 1600 MW. So, it may look at adding three more units of 800 MW here. In Singrauli, Uttar Pradesh, the company would replace its existing 2,000 MW capacity with a new plant with capacity configuration still being worked out.