Coal India has pleaded helplessness in providing linkage to new projects

The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) is mulling over the option of using imported coal alone for five of its upcoming thermal projects.

The power utility has been compelled to study the option as Coal India, the major supplier to the TANGEDCO, has pleaded helplessness in providing coal linkage to new projects in view of “acute shortage”, says an official. Environmental clearance, the most important approval for a power project, will be given by the Union government normally after coal linkage is firmed up.

The five projects are awaiting other clearances at various levels. They are: Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) Annexe (600 megawatt), North Chennai TPS Stage 4 (two units of 800 MW each), NCTPS Stage 3 (800 MW), Tuticorin TPS (800 MW) and Uppur thermal power project (two units of 800 MW each). The combined installed capacity of the five projects is 5,400 MW.

In fact, one of the five projects - Ennore Thermal Power Station (ETPS) Annexe (600 megawatt) – has received environmental clearance after Mahanadi Coalfields, a subsidiary of Coal India, agreed to supply coal. But, now, the coal company is dragging its feet, forcing the TANGEDCO to seek imported coal.

As an initial step, the TANGEDCO floated bids for the appointment of a consultant to study the various factors, such as the exact requirement, suitable coal grade, countries that will supply and the formulation of short-term and long-term contracts.

Periodicity of coal to be imported and the cost are among the other issues to be studied.

The last date for submission of bids is November 18. By the end of this month, the contract is likely to be awarded, the official says.

The possibility of blending imported coal with domestic coal will also form part of the study. In such a case, the ratio would be 70 per cent of imported coal and 30 per cent of domestic coal. The approximate coal requirement for the proposed five projects is estimated at 27 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of domestic coal or 15.5 MTPA for running with 100 per cent imported coal. If the combination of imported and domestic coal is to be used, the amount of coal to be imported would be 10.65 MTPA and 8.17 MTPA of domestic coal.

The official says that though Coal India has committed itself to supplying domestic coal to the existing thermal stations of the TANGEDCO, it is unable to supply 100 per cent coal because of the demand from all over the country.

The reason for the State power utility's low coal stock, which can last three-four days at a given point of time, is the difficulty of Coal India in meeting the demand, he points out, adding that many States are also going in for huge thermal power stations.