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Ultra Mega Power Projects: For the desired GDP growth in India

Last updated: January 20, 2017

Formidable Challenges in Indian Power Sector:

India has achieved significant generation capacity addition in the last 50 years. Despite of this it continues to face formidable challenges in bridging the gap between demand and supply. It needs to add another 170 GW of installed generation capacity in the next decade to get the desired 9% growth in GDP and this can be achieved only through large capacity power projects. 

Ultra Mega Power Project:

In view of this, the Government of India has come up with the concept of Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP). These coal powered, super-critical technology based power projects, each with a capacity of 4 GW or more and each unit of 660 MW or 800 MW is a series of ambitious power projects planned by the Indian Government. So far 16 UMPPs have been envisaged in various states including Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. Estimated investment in each UMPP is approximately Rs 20,000 to 30,000 crores.

Super-critical Thermal power plants:

The term “super-critical” is used for power plants operating at pressure above critical pressure; i.e. plants operating above 225.56 kg/cm2 and 374.15 oC are called super-critical thermal power plants. Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has evaluated super-critical technology from the technical and economical point of view and has recommended the same for Indian thermal power plants. Super-critical thermal generating units of 660 MW (steam pressure of 247 kg/cm2 and temperature of 535/563 oC) and 800 MW (temperature of 565/593 oC) is proposed for all future thermal power plants.

Super-critical Technology:

Power plants based on super-critical technology has the advantage of lower CO2, NOX, and SOX emission per kWh of electricity produced in comparison to sub-critical power plants. As per the Government decision, in the 13th FYP only super-critical technology based thermal power plants would be set up in India.

The average tariff for these projects is in the range of  Rs 2-3 per unit which is much lower than the recent tariffs. The projects are awarded to developers on tariff-based International Competitive Bidding (ICB) on a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis. CEA is the technical partner and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) is the nodal agency for getting the basic infrastructure like land, water supply, environment clearances, etc. In order to enhance investors’ confidence, and reduce risk perception, PFC incorporates Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for each UMPP to undertake the bidding process on behalf of the beneficiary states. Apart from bid process, the purpose of the SPVs is to obtain various clearances for the projects.

Significant UMPP:

The first UMPP, developed by Tata Power at Mundra, Gujarat has been commissioned and contributes 4,000 MW (8 x 800 MW) of power to the Western grid. Sasan UMPP, a 3,960 MW (6 x 660 MW) pit-head power plant is located in Madhya Pradesh. The project has been allocated three captive coal mine blocks; with an envisaged production of 25 million tonnes of coal per annum. When completed, this UMPP become the largest integrated coal-cum-power plant in the country involving almost 10,000 acres of land of which almost 7,000 acres would be coal mines.
The project was awarded to Reliance Power through ICB process in August 2007. The estimated project cost is over Rs. 27,000 crores (US$ 4.2 billion). Sasan is the first ever integrated-power cum coal mine project with current operational capacity of 2640 MW. First unit of 660 MW was commissioned in March 2013, second unit in January 2014, third unit in April 2014 and fourth unit in May 2014. 5th Unit is synchronized with grid and commissioning to be declared shortly. 6th and last unit is in advanced stage of commissioning and expected to be commissioned in the next couple of months. 

Power generated from the plant would be sold in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand states of India at a levelized tariff of 1.196 INR/ kWh. The low tariff of the project is primarily because of the low cost of generation due to its pit head location and captive mines. Because of the advanced 'super-critical' boiler technology, the operating efficiency is higher and emissions are reduced, thereby making it a less polluting thermal power plant.

The Tilaiya UMPP also by Reliance Power, is another integrated pit

pit-head power plant with an aggregate capacity of 4 GW located at  

As on March 2014, India had 13.9 GW of installed generation capacity based on super-critical technology; of which Adani Power has commissioned the maximum of 6.6 GW (10 units of 660 MW) with plant location at Mundra, Tiroda (Maharashtra) and Kawai (Rajasthan) . The 3 x 660 MW Sipat-I is the only UMPP in the public sector owned by NTPC, the rest have been commissioned by private sector.
electricalmonitor news bureau