Renewables Alone Cannot Meet Power Needs, Thermal Here to Stay: R K Singh

The government aims to add 80 GW of thermal capacity by 2031-32


Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy R. K. Singh  has said the government aims to add 80 GW of thermal power capacity by 2031-32, reiterating that renewables alone are not enough to meet India’s surging power demands.

He told a conference of energy sector stakeholders that since nuclear capacity cannot be added at a rapid pace, coal-based thermal capacity has to be augmented to meet the energy needs.

“We have 27 GW under construction, and we had thought that we will add another 25 GW. But, we have decided that we will start work on at least 55 GW – 60 GW of thermal capacity. As demand keeps accelerating, we will keep adding this capacity,” he said.

“Thermal cannot be written off until energy storage becomes viable. So, thermal is going to stay until energy storage becomes cost-effective for round-the-clock supply through renewable energy,” the minister said.

Recently, Singh stated India cannot be pressured into reducing its coal usage to generate electricity.

According to the National Electricity Plan projections for 2022-32, India needs to reach 283 GW of coal and lignite-based installed capacity by 2031-32, up from the current 214 GW.

Singh exhorted the states to ensure they have enough thermal capacity in place by extending the life of thermal projects and through innovation and modernization. “If you do not maintain your thermal capacity and instead expect us to give power from the central reserve, that is not going to happen. We will allocate additional power to those states which are maintaining and running their capacities.”

Given the power needs, the industry will keep getting orders for thermal capacity addition for the next 5 to 7 years. The minister said thermal energy was written off a few years ago, which was premature.

The minister said a payment security mechanism which does not have any parallel anywhere in the world has been put in place. Payments are guaranteed within 75 days; current dues are 100% up to date, and even the legacy dues are also being paid.

He assured power developers that the future power requirements of the distribution companies would be collated and shared with them so that they could ramp up capacity.

Recognizing concerns raised by EPC vendors regarding the bidding process, the minister assured them that their issues would be addressed. Equipment suppliers voiced concerns about credit shortages, bank guarantees, qualifying requirements, and technical specifications.