NTPC will meet a tenth of its coal requirements through imports in the current fiscal, by importing 20 million tonne (MT) of fuel and raising its captive fuel capacity by about 60%, according to a senior company official.
The state-run power producer wants to ensure supplies from its thermal stations are not disrupted by the domestic coal shortage.
NTPC has also decided to put the plans to expand coal-fired capacities on the front-burner, the official said, adding that the company will soon award a contract for a 2 X 660-megawatt coal-fired unit at its Talcher station in Odisha. Also, the company may revisit an earlier decision to slow the capacity expansion at Chhattisgarh’s Lara and Uttar Pradesh’s Singrauli super power stations.
Despite spiralling prices of the fuel in global markets, the Centre has recently asked the thermal power plants in the country to import more coal to have a fuel mix with 10% imported coal. However, compliance with this directive has been rather uneven across states and power producers.
NTPC has never been a big fuel importer, thanks to its robust long-term coal linkages, though 88% of its installed capacity of 54.6 gigawatts (GW) is coal-based.
Besides, the company will go slow on a plan to retire old coal-based plants and boost its captive coal output to 26 MT this year from 14 MT last year. NTPC consumed around 225 MT of coal last fiscal.
In line with India’s multilateral commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy, NTPC had earlier announced steps to make nearly half of its energy portfolio green in ten years from a little over 4% now, by raising solar and wind capacities. While that plan is still being implemented, the coal-based capacities will continue to be beefed up, the official said.
Several steps have been taken by policy-makers in recent years to boost domestic coal production. State-run Coal India has reported a significant growth in output through the use of modern equipment, underground mining etc – its production rose to a new record of 622 MT in FY22 against 607 MT in FY21. The government last year eased the open market sale of coal by captive coal producers but it will take another year or so to lead to a jump in production from these mines.
However, the rising demand for power in a recovering economy has only aggravated the coal shortage in recent years. The crisis turns serious during the summer months.