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  • India's reliance on coal as the dominant source of power generation continues, accounting for about 80 per cent share in total generation in 2016-17. However, the segment currently faces multiple challenges.

  • Capacity additions have slowed down with the project pipeline drying up. From 20 GW plus additions in recent years, only about 10.6 GW of coal-based capacity was added in 2016-17, which was even lower than that of renewables (at 11.3 GW). Going forward, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has projected that no new coal-based plants would be needed before 2027.

  • Lack of demand from discoms along with a spurt in renewable power generation has led to drastically reduced plant load factors (PLFs). In 2016-17, the national PLF stood at 59.6 per cent, a decrease of 2.44 per cent from the previous year. Even though the PLFs have improved marginally in the first six months of 2017-18, at 65.9 per cent, they still remain considerably low.

  • Of late, fuel availability issues for power plants have resurfaced. A number of projects have reported low reserve coal stocks owing to a combination of factors, including a demand surge and rail transportation issues.

  • Moreover, the magnitude of the stressed coal-based power capacity problem remains large, owing to a host of reasons including a dearth of fresh power purchase agreements (PPAs) and the non-availability of fuel supply agreements, besides the inability of promoters to infuse equity and service debt. The government is, however, planning to address these issues through a host of strategies including auctioning of stressed plants, encouraging their acquisition by public sector undertakings, as well as through the modification of PPA norms.

  • Meanwhile, to comply with the emission norms, the focus of developers is on installing/upgrading air emission control systems, improving water and wastewater management, and deploying more effective fly and bottom-ash handling strategies. However, given that these entail significant capex, developers are awaiting more clarity on tariffs and cost recovery mechanisms to be duly compensated.

  • Developers are also revisiting their O&M strategies in light of the energy efficiency targets for thermal power plants, coal washing requirements, safety improvements, etc. Modernisation of the ageing fleet through digitisation is also gaining traction to help improve generation and reliability, and keep them in business.

  • Flexibilisation is becoming a focal point for plant operators due to the growing share of intermittent renewable power generation. It is being increasingly realised that with greater renewables in the grid, coal-based power plants would need to be flexibilised to run at partial loads.

  • The mission of this conference is to discuss the future of coal-based power generation in India in light of its changing role and new requirements. It will examine potential strategies and solutions that developers and plant operators need to consider to address the new challenges, whether they relate to market developments, financial stress, environmental concerns or fuel supply. The conference will feature the viewpoint of all stakeholders and also provide a platform to showcase the best practices and most promising technologies.

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