India’s largest thermal power producer NTPC, which in years to come will focus more on renewable energy, wants to increase its presence in solar power generation space. Besides, it is also exploring the possibility of co-firing biomass with coal for electricity generation. “It is a very good development that is happening for carbon-free power and NTPC is not wishing it away but working aggressively to be a part of it. Therefore, we are realigning our strategy and our business plan. Going way forward, our capacity addition will be less in coal and more in renewable energy space,” said Gurdeep Singh, chairman and managing director of NTPC. However, the focus area will be solar photovoltaic plants rather than windmills as the prices of solar equipment including the photovoltaic plates have decreased sharply, making solar power cheaper and more affordable as compared to the wind. This year saw aggressive bidding for solar power projects, with record low bid of Rs 2.44 per kilowatt hour or kwH for Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan. In the months to come, NTPC expects the solar power price to be in the range of Rs 3 to Rs 3.25/kwH.
The marginal increase in the rates is after factoring in the impact of goods and services tax (GST) on solar power generation as the new tax regime is likely to increase the tariff to some extent. “We are planning to add renewable as fast as possible which is up to 25 gigawatt (gw) by 2025. Although what we have added as of now is 4 gw, including under construction and commissioned,” said Singh. NTPC has already opened tenders for 10 gw of renewable power projects. NTPC has been entrusted to develop 15 gw solar through National Solar Mission’s second phase in three tranches between 2014-15 to 2018-19. The first tranche consists of 3 gw or 3,000 megawatt and the subsequent two have 5 gw and 7 gw, respectively. Under the first tranche, 1,380 mw of solar has already been commissioned. Singh also shared that NTPC is exploring the feasibility of co-firing biomass along with coal for which bids have been invited to identify vendors to retrofit biomass co-firing facility. The feasibility will be explored at its 490 mw Dadri Pulverised Thermal Plant in Uttar Pradesh on engineering, procurement and construction basis. The corporation is also in discussion stage to install electric vehicle charging stations in metropolitan cities for which it has initiated talks with different state governments.