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NTPC plans expansion of solar power generation capacity

According to reports, the NTPC, Kayamkulam, has plans to expand solar power generation on the premises of the thermal plant at Kayamkulam. The public sector company had successfully launched production of 100 kWp from a floating solar project at Kayamkulam recently.

The solar power generation capacity was planned to be increased to 175 MW and the project could be made commercially viable, NTPC Kayamkulam General Manager Kunal Gupta told reporters at a press meet at the plant on Thursday. The 100 kWp floating solar plant was the largest of its kind in India, he said.

Mr.Gupta said a proposal had been submitted to the Kerala State Electricity Board. The next stage of the proposed project would depend on the response from the board. Production of solar power had become cheaper over the past few years and the prevailing rates could be around ₹3.50. The NTPC would be in a position to offer solar power at competitive rates, he said.

The NTPC, Kayamkulam, had been set up with the sole purpose of generating power to meet the needs of Kerala. The plant, with a capacity of 360 MW, depends on naphtha for its fuel needs. Naphtha being costly, the power generated from the plant is priced higher due to which the KSEB prefers to buy power from alternative sources, from other States.

Nevertheless, the NTPC offers power to Kerala at lower rates from its plants elsewhere in a bid to reduce the overall rate of the power purchased from the NTPC plants by the State.

The KSEB had been giving orders for power generation to the NTPC plant at Kayamkulam as a stop-gap arrangement when it falls short of electricity sourced from outside the State. The Kayamkulam plant had got orders only for four days in the past one year.

The State government is paying monthly fixed charges of about ₹18 crore to the NTPC as per the original agreement between the public sector entity and the State government, irrespective of the power purchase. Though the NTPC plant at Kayamkulam has been converted to make use of natural gas for power generation, successive governments had failed to ensure transportation of gas through surface or undersea pipelines to the plant.

The solar power proposal is expected to usher in a new phase in the history of the plant. The plant at Kayamkulam has waterbodies around, which are part of its property. Floating solar panels could be set up on the waterbodies as the experimental floating station has been functioning well, according to the officials.

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