In its aim to provide 24X7 supply of electricity across the country, the Centre plans to modernise all power plants to increase their capacity as well as reduce pollution levels. Powere Minister Piyush Goyal told the Lok Sabha today, “All these power plants of NTPC, which are more than 25 years old, and together produced around 11,000 mega watt (MW) power, will be phased out gradually and converted into ‘super critical plant’.”
NTPC has an installed capacity of 48,188 MW and 23,000 MW under implementation at 23 locations across the country.
Goyal added, “The new plants will become six to eight time less polluting and will be able to generate more power.” Replying to a question on setting up an ultra mega power project in Bihar, the minister said the government will take a calibrated approach in setting up the project in Banka region of Bihar.
He said the government would not rush to set up the project there as it would mean costly power per unit to the people of the state. Today, the power is available at a cost of nearly Rs 4 per unit. However, at present the country has surplus power and coal as states like Bihar get power at a cost of Rs 3.50 per unit in 'power exchange', he said.
After the BJP's landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, the Central government has started work on improving electricity supply in the state. The government has met 77 per cent of its target to link villages to power grids, he said, adding that some 47 million rural households are still without electricity, and even those connected to the grid suffer frequent outages.
In a bid to provide affordable and uninterrupted power supply to the state, the power ministry has already started working on how to rationalise tariffs for the poor to encourage installation of power connections.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy has called for more robust monitoring and implementation of the rural electrification programme. In its 26th report, the committee said, “though many states have made commendable progress, some states are still lagging behind.”
Goyal said there is a move to revive and improve utilisation of the stranded gas-based power generation capacity in the country. “The scheme envisages supply of imported re-gasified liquefied natural gas to the stranded gas based plants as well as plants receiving domestic gas, selected through a reverse e-bidding process,” he said.
The Minister said UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana), a scheme for the financial turnaround and operational improvement of power distribution companies has been approved by the government which may enable them to procure more power from generators, thus increasing their Plant Load Factor (PLF).