Coal-fired plants may have to scale down utilisation to 35% by 2022

<p> </p><p>One of the Big Four, KPMG, has predicted that capacity utilisation for many coal-fired power plants in India will drop to 35-40% by 2022 as renewable power generation sources rise. Average capacity utilisation of coal fired power plants are around 51% at present and some plants may have to be seasonally shut or mothballed, KPMG has predicted. <br><br>“As per KPMG in India analysis, even a scenario with 130 GW of renewables instead of the planned 175 GW by 2022 could result in plant load factor (PLF) dropping to 35-40 per cent for many coal plants,” it said in a recent report. <br><br>“Increased penetration of renewable energy in the electricity system will lead to duck curve effects, requiring flexible operation of conventional power plants,” it said in its report. <br><br>Flexible operation of conventional coal-fired plants was for a while resisted by existing operators on the premise that cycling and stop-start operations impair asset life and reliability. According to KPMG, if the option is between mothballing the plants versus operating It is possible to typically reduce the minimum technical limits to 40% in Indian conditions. <br><br>“However, this would require retrofitting of plant equipment and instrumentation along with extensive changes to operating practices and human competencies to safely manage cycling operations that feature frequent start-stop and ramping up and down the plants with technical, operational and commercial modifications, the latter option is surely preferable,” the KPMG study mentioned. <br><br>Flexibilised coal-fired generation's new role will be akin to storage, having energy content available on tap for balancing grid variability when the need arises rather than its erstwhile role of being the bulwark of supply. <br><br>Flexibilisation of coal plants involves retrofitting of components and modifying operational processes for increasing cycling flexibility of thermal power plants so as to achieve lower technical minimum, reduce the start-up time, increase ramp rates and enable multiple cycles of start-up and shut down of plants in a day. Going substantially below 40%, as is done in Germany where plants go down to 20-25%, would require coal quality to be improved and controlled and would also require require significantly more capex. <br><br>In many cases, the overall costs of retrofit may not be justified, especially for assets in the later parts of their life cycle. <br><br> </p><p>Referred from economic times, dated Nov - 23 -2019</p>