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Landmark: Critically yours

Landmark: Critically yours

Commissioning of the first supercritical plant in India was a landmark in the growth story of Indian power sector, writes Charudatta Palekar.
 
Introduction
22 December 2010 was an important day for Indian power: On that day, Adani Power commissioned first unit of 660 MW of Phase III of Mundra Power Project, the country's first unit based on supercritical technology. More than 35 units are under construction with super­critical technology. About 60 per cent of thermal power capacity to be added in 12th Five Year Plan will be based on supercritical technology, and we expect that most of the capacity to be added in 13th Plan will be based on that technology.  
 
Supercritical technology
Supercritical technology improves thermal effi­ciency by operating at higher temperatures and pre­ssures (5800C temperature and 23 MPa pressure). Supercritical state of steam improves efficiency of thermal energy conversion to electricity, which dri­ves lower consumption of coal and thus gene­rates fewer pollutants. Further, ultra supercritical tech­nology plants which operate at increasingly higher temperatures and pressures achieving still higher thermal efficiencies with significant CO2 redu­ctions. This is why, in the last decade, several coun­tries adopted supercritical technology due to rising fuel prices and stricter environmental regulations.  
 
The Project
Mundra Thermal Power Project of Adani Power comprises four units of 330 MW each, which are already commissioned and five units of 660 MW each based on supercritical technology. The two units of 660 MW capacity each, which form Phase III of Mundra Thermal power project, are commissioned till date, remaining three units of 660 MW, which belongs to Phase IV of the project, are expected to be commissioned in this financial year itself. The first unit of 660 MW was commissioned in record period of 36 months from its inception. This project has received Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Project certificate from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The supercritical technology enables to achieve the power plant to be 25 per cent more efficient than conventional sub-critical power plants and also, enables 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emission. 

Financial closure of Phase III of the project was completed in March 2008 with loan agreements signed with State Bank of India and consortium for a loan of around Rs 4,400 crore. Long term power agreements have been entered with the state utilities: Power from this project will be evacuated to Gujarat and Haryana by dedicated high voltage transmission lines. A 400 kV, 430 km transmission line from Mundra to Dehgam in Gujrat has been laid.
 
Additionally, a dedicated 500 kV, 1,000 km high-voltage DC transmission line from Mundra to Mohindergarh in Haryana will evacuate power to Northern India. The coal for this plant may be sourced from Indonesia through their own affiliate company in Indonesia. The coal will be imported at its own coal terminal at West Port at Mundra with 60 mn t capacity, which will be further expanded by another 100 mn t.  
 
How it was achieved
The power plant is based on Chinese technology.  Most of equipment have been sourced from Chinese suppliers who faced considerable supply challenges due to massive earthquake occurred in China which affected their manufacturing facilities. Despite these challenges, the unit was successfully commissioned in record time because of cohesive efforts of all contractors and suppliers together. The precise completion also reflects the excel­lent proj­ect management skills and abilities of the mana­gement teams.  
 
Learnings
This success stands out on the background of our past experience in continuous slippages in generation capacity addition targets of past Five-Year Plans. Indian power industry needs to quickly assimilate and build on the success so that we achieve all future capacity addition targets successfully.
 
 
Advantages of Supercritical technology
l    Reduced fuel cost with improved efficiency
l    Reduced CO2, NOx, SOx, particulate emissions
l    Excellent plant availability
l    Projects certified for carbon credits under UNFCC
 
 
The author is Principal Consultant – Energy Utilities and Mining Practice, PwC India.

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