Supercritical Journey

NTPC’s 3×660-MW Sipat-Stage I project in Chhattisgarh was recently dedicated to the nation at the hands of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. For NTPC, this becomes the first fully-commissioned power plant running on supercritical parameters. In June 2011, the first unit of this coal-fired power plant was commissioned, giving NTPC its first taste of “supercritical” success.

The main plant equipment for Sipat-I was supplied by Doosan Heavy Industries of Korea (boilers) and OJSC Power Machines of Russia (turbine-generators). When the order for main plant equipment was placed, way back in 2004, it was felt that Sipat-I would be India’s first supercritical power project. However, this was not to be as Adani Power commissioned India’s first supercritical unit, at its Mundra plant, in December 2010. Ironically, India’s first operational supercritical power plant came from a Chinese supplier!

NTPC’s Sipat-I project was considerably held up due to alleged delays on part of the Russian turbine-generator supplier OJSC Power Machines. Interestingly, the same entity and another Russian supplier, Technopromexport JSC, are delaying matters for the 3×660-MW Barh-I project in Bihar. This supercritical plant in Patna district has been in the making for nearly a decade now with commissioning expected not before 2015.
Despite the initial hurdles, NTPC has come a long way in its supercritical power ambitions and today has over 16,000 MW worth of supercritical power capacity in various stages of making. Commissioning of this project pipeline will take spread over this Plan period and the next.

NTPC_Supercritical Technology_ProjectsMonitorDelays amidst progress
Interacting with Projectmonitor over phone, a senior NTPC project official explained that the power utility had around 10 supercritical power projects under construction or for which orders for BTG (boiler, turbine-generator) had been placed (see table). While most projects are progressing on schedule, NTPC has had to contend with some delays in its projects in Odisha for want of land or environment-related clearances.
Explaining the situation, the official, who did not wish to be identified, said that the 2×800-MW Darlipalli project in Sundargarh district was facing delays with respect to land acquisition. These delays assumed a rather serious proportion with BGR Energy, on whom the order for turbine-generators was placed, threatened to pull out of the project as it could not mobilise the project on time. The TG package for Darlipalli will be re-tendered, the official noted.

It may be mentioned that the boiler package has, however, been finalised on BHEL but is pending final award. “As of now, we do not foresee re-tendering of the boiler package,” the official clarified.

Another project in Odisha, the 2×800-MW Gajmara project in Dhenkanal district, was hopelessly stuck for timely acquisition of land. The project finally had to be pulled out of the eastern state, only to be relocated at Gadarwara in Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh.

The incumbent supercritical power business of NTPC shows an interesting mix of BTG suppliers. Apart from Indian technology coming from Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, NTPC’s upcoming supercritical power projects will have a blend of Japanese, French, Russian and Korean technology, but certainly not Chinese. When NTPC entered the market with its mega tender for its long shelf of supercritical power projects in around 2010, it had clearly specified that suppliers will need to have a local manufacturing facility, or should have near-term plans of having domestic facilities. Thus, without specifying the country, NTPC obviated Chinese characters on its supercritical canvas.

NTPC: INSTALLED CAPACITY
(As of March 31, 2013)

Wholly – owned
Joint Venture
Total
Coal-based
31,855
3,424
35,279
Gas-based
3,955
1,940
5,895
Renewables
10
0
10
Total
35,820
5,364
41,184

BHEL dominant
It is very encouraging to see that in the 10 supercritical projects for which NTPC have placed BTG orders, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd has been the most successful. Considering the 20 packages at stake — 10 for boilers and an equal number of turbine-generators — BHEL has bagged eight. In three projects—Mauda, Barh (II) and Gadarwara — it has won the entire BTG package.

The new crop of BTG suppliers has also been fairly successful. BGR Energy Systems, which has a technical collaboration with Hitachi of Japan, has won four packages out of which one might be re-tendered. The Toshiba-JSW duo has won two packages, so has the joint venture between Alstom and Bharat Forge.

Doosan of Korea, which has entered the Indian market without a domestic collaborator, has won three packages. This Korean company has also supplied boilers to the Mundra UMPP and has generally been active in India. It is now furthering its Indian presence with a local manufacturing facility in Chennai.

The sole Russian company in the fray is OJSC Power Machines that is supplying turbine-generators to the delayed Barh (Stage 1) project. This company, however, did not participate in the fresh NTPC mega tender. Unlike the Korean, Japanese or European companies, there has been no expression of interest so far from Russian companies to set up manufacturing facilities for supercritical power plant gear.

It is worth observing that Larsen & Toubro Ltd, which has tied up with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for both supercritical boilers and turbine-generators, could not secure a single project in the NTPC mega tender. L&T-MHI however has landed other projects such as the TG package for the 2×800-MW Krishnapatnam project being developed by a joint venture of APGenco and IL&FS. Jaypee Group and some other IPPs have also placed orders on L&T-MHI.

SUPERCRITICAL POWER PROJECTS OF NTPC*
Project
State
Capacity
Boiler
TG Set
 
 
(MW)
 
 
Mauda
Maharashtra
2×660
BHEL
BHEL
Solapur
Maharashtra
2×660
BGR+Hitachi
Alstom + Bharat Forge
Nabinagar
Bihar
3×660
BHEL
Alstom + Bharat Forge
Meja
Uttar Pradesh
2×660
BGR+Hitachi
Toshiba + JSW
Barh Stage 1
Bihar
3×660
Technopromexport, Russia
OJSC Power Machines, Russia
Barh Stage 2
Bihar
2×660
BHEL
BHEL
Darlipalli
Odisha
2×800
BHEL
BGR + Hitachi**
Kudgi
Karnataka
3×800
Doosan
Toshiba + JSW
Lara
Chhattisgarh
2×800
Doosan
BGR + Hitachi
Gadarwara
Madhya Pradesh
2×800
BHEL
BHEL
*Projects where BTG orders have been finalized, as of mid-September 2013; List may not be exhaustive
**Scheduled to be re-tendered

NTPC vision
Supercritical power projects are destined to play a very important role in NTPC’s capacity addition programme. This is in keeping with India’s inclination to use supercritical technology in a bid to reduce environmental impact from conventional power plants.

Whatever the country’s effort in promoting electricity generation from renewable sources be, there is no denying that coal-fired power plants will form the backbone of India’s power generation infrastructure.

Abolition of coal-based plants is impossible, only mitigation of their carbon footprint is within reach. In the 13th Plan period (FY18 to FY22), the government has estimated that the entire coal-fired power capacity planned will be based on supercritical technology.

As of March 31, 2013, NTPC has a total power generation capacity of 41,184 MW out of which 35,279 MW (86 per cent) was from coal-fired plants, mostly wholly-owned by NTPC but also including some in joint venture.

As of same date, 20,009 MW worth of projects were under construction out of which 18,480 MW represented coal-fired power plants. It is notable that 80 per cent of this incumbent coal-fired capacity will be from supercritical plants.


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