Decline in output of power generation units

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

In haste to set up new plants to meet the increasing demand

‘All the five power plants in the city need refurbishing’

‘Companies are reluctant to spend money on the Indraprastha Station’

NEW DELHI: In the haste to set up new plants to meet the increasing demand for power, the city and its generation companies have failed to make full use of the existing power generation units. Lack of maintenance and an irregular supply of gas have ensured that the power stations in the city function at far less than their installed capacity.

Take for instance the Pragati Power Station, which has shown a decline in production in the past five years. The plant with an installed capacity of 330 MW was functioning at 88 per cent of its capacity in 2003-04, which came down to 79 per cent in 2004-05, 78 per cent in 2005-06 and in 2007-08 was functioning at 81 per cent of its capacity.

In the absence of an assured gas supply for the gas based plants and owing to lack of maintenance of the thermal ones, generation units have not been able to produce as per their capacity.

“All the five power plants in the city need refurbishing. The Indraprastha Station set up in 1968 is the oldest and had the lowest utilisation factor of 47.3 per cent in 2007-08,” said an expert in the power sector.

Utilisation factor or plant load factor is a measure of the output of a power plant compared with the maximum output it can produce. “In the past year the average load factor of the Indraprastha, Rajghat and the Pragati Power Plant has been 54.5 per cent. This when the installed capacity of the plants is 247 MW, 135 MW and 330 MW respectively. Only Badarpur Thermal Plant that has an installed capacity of 703 MW had a plant load factor of 86.6 per cent,” a source in the power department said.

Pinning the blame on the generation companies, he said: “Even the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Central Electricity Authority have time and again asked the generating companies to take stock and do the needful to improve the performance.”

Sources said while the companies are reluctant to spend money on the Indraprastha Station because it is scheduled to be closed down by 2010, they have made little effort to ensure quality control. “In some cases the spares that are used are of poor quality, resulting in poor performance and frequent breakdowns.” Experts said the city’s aspiration of becoming power surplus in the near future can be jeopardised if immediate attention is not paid to the condition of the existing power plants.

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