Flexible Operation of Thermal Power Plants in India: Workshops in Kolkata and Ahmedabad

On 4 and 6 February 2020, the Excellence Enhancement Center (EEC) organized flexibilization workshops in Kolkata (West Bengal) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) with the support of IGEF-SO. The aim of these workshops was to raise awareness of the need for flexible power plant operation for coal-fired power plants among the Indian energy industry and to present promising technical and organizational measures. Indian industry experts and representatives of the international technical association of energy plant operators VGB and its member companies seized the opportunity to exchange ideas about the need for flexible power plant operation and the different options available. More than 160 participants joined both workshops, which exceeded the expectations of the organizers by far.

Profitability is a particular challenge

VGB’s member companies RWE, Steag and Siemens presented the experiences they gained in international projects related to the flexibilization of thermal power plants. From the Indian side, the state electricity generators – West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited and Gujarat State Electricity Board – stated that they have started investigating flexible power plant operation and have already carried out according test runs in their power plants. Representatives of the private power producer Adani Power Maharastra Ltd also pointed out the challenge of operating thermal power plants both flexibly and profitably.

Representatives of the Central Electricity Agency (CEA) made it clear that the state institutions are aware of this challenge and are working on solutions and suitable tariff systems. The transition of the Indian energy system is moving forward in great strides. According to a recent CEA study, in 2030 over 50 percent of the electricity will be generated from fluctuating energy resources such as wind and solar PV. On the one hand, flexible coal-fired power plants with minimum loads of at least 55 percent are required. On the other hand, further flexibility and supply options have to be developed. The study sees particularly great potential in hydropower and in stationary battery systems.

Both workshops were organized under the auspices of the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF). As part of the IGEF activities, the VGB is working with the EEC on other project schemes related to flexible coal-fired power plants.

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