It is expected to start commissioning in 42 months

Work on the State's first super-critical thermal power plant of 660 megawatt (MW), to be set up on the premises of the Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) near here, was formally inaugurated on Thursday with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa laying the foundation stone through video-conferencing from the Secretariat.

Estimated to cost Rs. 4,956 crore, the power plant is expected to be commissioned in 42 months. It is called super critical as its technology is associated with better heat rate, less coal firing, less CO2 emission and more environment-friendly functions when compared to conventional plants using sub-critical technology.

An official of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), which has commissioned the power plant project, explains that though two private companies are putting up plants of 600 MW each in Cuddalore and Tuticorin, these units do not fall under the category of super critical.

An interesting aspect of the Ennore expansion plant project is that no land acquisition has been made and the extent of the land earmarked for the plant is about 85 acres, all within the premises of the ETPS.

In March 2012, the government gave its approval for establishing the plant. In January last, the project received environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

To overcome the problem of drawing seawater from the polluted Ennore Creek, the authorities will use seawater to be drawn at a depth of 8.5 metres.

The Chief Minister handed over work order to L. Madhusudhan Rao, Executive Chairman of Lanco Infra Tech, which has bagged the contract for the plant, using the mode of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). For the first time, the Corporation has included a clause for the payment of incentive for commissioning of the plant ahead of the schedule. Besides, there is a penalty clause to be invoked in the event of delay, says the official.

The annual requirement of coal will be of the order of 2.5 millions a year which will be imported from Indonesia. A 5.5-km-long pipe conveyer will be used to bring coal to the plant site.

Eighty per cent of the project cost will be funded by the Power Finance Corporation (PFC), which will charge an interest rate of approximately 12 per cent, adds the official.