The move is in line with the Centre’s proposal to introduce flexibility in generation scheduling. It provides flexibility for substituting thermal by renewable power
National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), the country’s largest coal-based power generator, will back down thermal power at some of its units to blend with renewable energy and sell it together. The company has placed a tender to procure 2,000 megawatts (Mw) of solar and wind power which will be bundled with the non-pithead units.
Operational and planned renewable units can participate in the tender. Thermal power will be blended with 10-20 per cent of renewable energy. These units will be used as peaking units. Peaking units fill the supply gap between fluctuating renewable energy and base coal power.
Business Standard had reported pithead plants of the NTPC would run at over 90 per cent plant load factor (PLF) or operating ratio and non-pithead ones would act as peaking plants, which can be scaled up when demand peaks over the average consumption.
Executives said the rate at which power was sold to power distribution companies (discoms) would remain unchanged. The tariff would be the same as the generating unit is currently selling power to a particular state or discom. The schedule and amount of power supply would remain unchanged.
“If there is any difference in the cost of power after blending renewable, the loss would be borne by the NTPC. In case, the final power price is lower than the contracted rate, discoms would get it as a rebate in their annual bill,” he said.
As tariffs of solar and wind power have fallen below Rs 2.5 per unit in the last year, the NTPC is hopeful of supplying cheaper power to its beneficiaries.
The coal saved due to backing down will be directed to the plants closer to coal mines, thereby bringing in efficiency in coal supply and reducing costs, said executives.
Last year, the NTPC reduced its coal consumption by 5.5 per cent, thereby reducing its fuel cost by Rs 1.65 per unit. The NTPC is maximising output by adopting a unique plan. The efficient plants are operated at a higher PLF including the pithead plants. Plants further than 500 kms from coal mines are operated at a lower PLF. The NTPC aims to operate them as peaking units as the share of renewable increases in the grid.
The move is also in line with the Centre’s proposal to introduce flexibility in generation scheduling. It provides flexibility for substituting thermal by renewable power.
The NTPC registered a 6 per cent generation growth in the last fiscal, with total power generation touching 265 billion units. It is now a 50,000 Mw power-generation company, running at a PLF of 76 per cent (as on February 2018), higher than the national average PLF of 62.5 per cent.