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Over 92% under-construction private power units face uncertainty

FE Bureau
In the Five-Year plan period FY13-17, private power players had commissioned 53,660 MW of thermal generating units, 22% more than the original target.

Out of the 23,730 MW of private thermal power plants currently under construction, only projects with 1,825 MW have announced the commissioning date, while others are listed as "uncertain", according to a reply tabled in Parliament by the government. Power minister RK Singh also informed the house that 20,420 MW and 20,186 MW of thermal power plants are under construction by the central and the state sectors, respectively.

According to research firm India Ratings, 85% of under-construction private plants are stressed, and are not receiving any incremental credit from banks and equity markets. The agency expects annual coal-based capacity addition to remain subdued at 5GW-6GW till FY21. The possible decline was attributed to yearly decommissioning of nearly 2 GW of old plants, unavailability of fresh funds, inadequate coal availability and lack of new PPAs. The country added only 3,600 MW of coal power plants in FY19.

The National Electricity Plan published by the Central Electricity Authority estimates that under-construction power plants would be put to use only after FY22, with additional coal-based capacity requirements jumping up to 46,420 MW for the FY22-27 period. However, to accommodate high quantum of renewable energy sources, thermal plants are likely to run at low PLFs in future. As per government estimates, if 130 GW of renewable capacity is added by 2022, the PLFs of coal plants during peak solar months could drop to 35-40%. PLF of thermal plants has decreased from 78.9 % in FY08 to 61% in FY19.

In the Five-Year plan period FY13-17, private power players had commissioned 53,660 MW of thermal generating units, 22% more than the original target. Overall capacity addition of 99,210 MW was 30% more than the target. The current installed power capacity (including renewables) is 358 GW against the peak demand of 184 GW.