10,180 Mw of Supercritical Units to Replace 5,228 Mw of Old Capacity
Fate of another 4,800 Mw will be decided on the viability of repair and maintenance projects

Out of a total 32,800 Mw of installed thermal power capacity that's 25 years old, the government has decided to replace 5,228 Mw with 10,180 Mw of new supercritical units. It will not replace 22,170 Mw now, since these plants have either undergone renovation and modernisation or life-extension tweaks and can be operated for a few more years.

The fate of another set of units of 4,800 Mw capacity will be decided on the basis of viability of repair and maintenance projects. However, in case these units are not considered feasible for such an overhaul, they will either be retired or replaced with supercritical units. Yet another set of units of 5,860 Mw capacity will be retired in a phased manner and some of these units will be replaced with supercritical ones.

In a bid to conserve land, water and coal, the ministry of power has advised the Central Electricity Authority to prepare a report on replacement of old and inefficient units with supercritical units and explore the possibility of replacing old and inefficient thermal generating units with supercritical units.

CEA was requested to identify retired power plants that can be replaced with ultra mega power projects (UMPPs) that require additional land in the vicinity. However, additional land availability was an issue mainly due to rapid urbanisation in the vicinity of existing thermal stations. It was therefore decided to explore the possibility of replacing old and inefficient units with supercritical units that can come up on the same land.

In order to assess the proposed replacement of old, inefficient and subcritical units with supercritical units, those with a lifespan of 25 years or more were considered. The full life of thermal power plants is generally 25 years. However, this does not imply that units should not be operated beyond 25 years. Some of the old plants are performing well.

As many as 27 units with a gross capacity of 2,658 Mw have been shut down. Out of these, four units with a capacity of 604 Mw are being renovated.

New units replacing old ones will be automatically eligible for receiving coal. Coal India will also try to accommodate additional fuel requirements in case the new supercritical units require more coal than they have been consuming at the old units.

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