As a bid to circumvent delays in land acquisition for planned new ‘ultra mega’ power projects, the energy ministry proposed converting plants older than 25 years, which were originally built on large areas of land. However, investigations by state governments found that creeping urbanization had largely eroded the amount of available land, and states surveyed by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) said there are no longer enough land or water resources to support the new plants. As a result, the CEA recommended that the plan not go forward.
A second proposed alternative is to convert some of the older plants to supercritical technology. To this end, a report submitted to the energy ministry by the CEA in October looked at upgrading 10 GW of existing coal-fired assets.
However, the report found that only 30 per cent of this capacity (8.2 GW of state-owned plants and 1980 MW owned by the central government) could productively be converted to supercritical, and that significantly greater efficiency could be gained through instituting “good operating practices”.