India to add 12 GW thermal capacity by March: RK Singh

New Delhi: India will add about 12 GW of coal-based power generation capacity by the end of this financial year amid rising power demand, power minister RK Singh said on Monday.

The additional 12 GW capacity and the gas-based power plants kept as a reserve would make up the estimated increase in the next financial year, the minister said while speaking to reporters on Monday. He said that there has been a growth of about 20% in the demand for power in the country in the last three months.

“We have a substantial resource that is up and running, which is to be commissioned. By March, we expect to have about 12,000 MW (thermal capacity) commissioned. That more than makes up the gap. That and the fact that we monitor daily where the deficit is, which state has a deficit and which resource in that state was not scheduled. So we’re monitoring that and we’ve said the unscheduled outages will have to come down.”

Earlier in the day, addressing the opening session of the National Conference of Ministers of State & UTs of Power and New & Renewable Energy, the Minister said that a total of around 80 GW of thermal plants must be built to meet the demand is growing and the need for private investments in coal-based power generation has been emphasized.

“Earlier, around 25,000 MW were being built, mainly in the public sector. But this was not enough; therefore, we started working on adding 25,000 MW, but we need to start working on an additional 30,000 MW. ie, we have about 80,000 MW of thermal capacity under construction. All this increase in capacity is being done through the public sector, investment from the private sector has not started to come, but I am sure that investments will come from the private sector, because we have made the system viable and the sector is giving results.”

The minister also said that some states are not operating their plants at their full capacity despite instructions from the Centre.

“We notice that some states are not running their power plants at peak capacity and instead seek power from the Centre’s pool. If some state is not running their plants at peak demand, we will not be able to supplement from the central pool. We need to focus on making sure that all of our plants operate and that all of our factories operate at full capacity,” he told the states.

Addressing the press conference, RK Singh also said that all power generation companies are directed to generate power at full capacity and after meeting the contractual demand they would have to compulsorily offer it to exchanges. Singh said the gencos would not be able to benefit from their fixed charges if they do not operate at full capacity and do not offer their additional power at the exchanges.

“We have a gas-based resource that we keep in reserve. That gas-based resource we are going to use to meet that demand for non-solar hours. Overall, we have also ensured and will continue to ensure that the imported coal-based plants that run fully are made available to the PPA and if not to the PPA holder then to the exchange.”

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines, Pankaj Agarwal, secretary, union power ministry, said that by 2032 an additional 75 GW thermal capacity would be added. Most of the plants would be set up near the tail end of the coal mines to ensure a steady supply of coal.

The minister also said that it has been suggested to states to develop new plants near pitheads.

The focus on adding thermal capacity comes amid increased power demand. Peak power demand hit a record 239.9 GW on 1 September. The projected peak demand in FY24 was 230 GW.

According to data from the power ministry, as on May 31, India’s installed thermal power capacity stood at 205.23 GW.

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Updated: 06 November 2023, 09:06 PM IST

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