- MoP has directed central, state, and private TPPs in the country to replace a minimum of aggregate 58,000 MU with 30 GW renewable energy by 2025-26
- The amount to be replaced can go up further than what is assigned to various stations in a compiled list of such facilities
- Government hopes to save coal, reduce emissions and meet its 500 GW non-fossil fuel based electricity by 2030 ambition with this move
India’s Ministry of Power (MoP) has unveiled a trajectory to replace about 58,000 million units (MU) of thermal energy from power plants with high tariffs with 30 GW of renewable energy by 2025-26, to contribute to the national goal of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel based electricity by 2030 (see India Goes For Net Zero By 2070).
It has determined to replace this thermal power plant (TPP) capacity from central, state and privately operated facilities with an eye to optimize the costs of power delivered to the consumer.
The document refers to equivalent solar power needed to replace thermal energy assuming a capacity utilization factor (CUF) of 22%.
A document released by the ministry lists the TPP generating stations that need to ensure this transition by the stipulated deadline, while adding a disclaimer that the list is indicative and not exhaustive and that a thermal power station can substitute larger amounts of thermal power than renewable energy, over the above the targeted 58,000 MU.
This is the lowest minimum that can be achieved, it adds. TPPs not mentioned in the list can also voluntarily replace thermal power with renewables. Even hydro power plants are also encouraged to bundle existing power generated with renewable energy to participate in the scheme.
“The replacement of thermal power will save a good amount of coal annually consumed in the country leading to reduced emissions and greening of the environment,” reads the MoP’s communication. “The substitution of thermal power with RE power will also alleviate the concerns of coal crisis and enable the country in meeting maximum demand benefiting the consumers.”
The initiative can help save a total of 34.7 million metric tons (MMT) and reduce carbon emissions by 60.2 MMT, according to the document that’s available on MoP’s website.
Power Ministry’s announcement has come at a time when India has to accelerate its renewable energy generation, bring down its carbon emissions and also at a time when it deals with a looming power crisis.
Recently a report by the Centre for Research and Clean Air (CREA) warned of a power crisis in the country in July 2022 and August 2022 going by the increase in power demand with a harsh heat wave season in Northern India and low coal stocks at TPPs. It will be difficult to mine and transport coal to these stations with monsoon season just around the corner. Even non-power sectors that rely on coal as steel and aluminum industries are at a receiving end of this situation. The government is reportedly managing the situation by using passenger trains to ferry coal to the destination TPPs.