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Policy induce stepped-up thermal efficiency in power plants

There seems action on the power front. Power major NTPCNSE -0.60 % has announced that it is joining hands with engineering specialist BHELNSE -2.49 % to build India’s first power plant incorporating advanced ultra-supercritical boiler technology at Sipat, Chhattisgarh. The idea of course is to step-up energy efficiency, reduce fuel usage, and also proactively bring down carbon emissions going forward. 

India seems to have well mastered supercritical technology configured for domestic coal. NTPC’s Telangana’s plant has ultra-supercritical technology, and now the plan is to demonstrate advanced ultra-supercritical technology and rev up thermal efficiency by an estimated 20 percentage points, reduce coal consumption and boost power generation for improved resource efficiency. 

In subcritical plants, thermal efficiency of the steam cycle can average only about 32%. For supercritical plants it can go up to 42%; for ultra-supercritical plants, thermal efficiency can rise to 46%. And for advanced ultra-supercritical plants, plant efficiency levels can be greater than 50%. Compared to subcritical plants, advanced ultra-supercritical plants can generate nearly 50% more power with little or no change in coal consumption. Hence the pressing need to better allocate resources for improved thermal efficiency nationally, and raise energy efficiency levels right across the board. And sooner than later. 

The way forward, surely, is to proactively write-off ageing, subcritical plants and aim to reap economies of scale by purposefully building larger power stations that duly subsume higher thermal efficiency levels. 

Meanwhile the efforts underway to make fertilizer via the coal gasification route now underway at Talcher Fertilizers needs to be closely watched. Work on the Talcher fertiliser plant formally began in September, 2018. The technology of coal gasification for urea production can well be leveraged to setup combined-cycle gas-powered plants. The fact is that thermal efficiency in power plants with combined-cycle gas turbines can exceed 60%. It means practically doubling power generation even as coal usage remains quite unchanged. 

 

Referred from economic times

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