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Power Generation: Technology Choices

Analysing how latest power generation equipment will energise the power sector

Power generation equipment are core part in the power sector and plays a significant role in generation of the power. Imagine if the power generation equipment are feeble, undoubtedly the results will be poor supply and generation of the power which will lead to power shortages. Hence, it is essential that the power equipment are strengthened well on time. This article will give an insight on latest power generation equipment that will describe how to strengthen the Indian power sector.

India, is a developing country, it has always been the power sector which is critical in fuelling the overall development. Currently, there is an existing gap between supply and demand of electricity which is estimated at an average of 16 per cent along with transmission and distribution losses which are estimated anywhere between 23 to 30 per cent.

With rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, this gap is bound to rise fast. There is a need to implement newer fields of technological advancements and energy systems engineering to provide integrated solutions to the energy problems, by adopting a holistic, systems-based approach.

Currently the various options for power generation available are wind energy systems, solar, biomass gasifiers and small hydro-power system. However, efficiencies of different types of power plants could differ from 0.27 per cent in the case of nuclear power plant to 90 per cent for a hydro power plant. The efficiency of a wind turbine can vary between 30 per cent and 45 per cent. The thermal power contribution to this is around 63 per cent, followed by hydropower contributing around 25 per cent. The share of nuclear power is the smallest with 3 per cent, and the power generation through renewable sources contributes the remaining 9 per cent.

Expressing his views on the latest power generation technology developments that will shape and strengthen the Indian power sector Farrokh N. Cooper, Chairman and Managing Director, Cooper Corporation Pvt Ltd says, “The gap between supply and demand of electricity will be fulfilled by use of power generators in stand by and continuous duty cycle. The latest technology developments in this segment are use of highly efficient diesel engines to run the stand by gensets.”

Cooper Corporation pioneers in using state-of-the- art diesel engines which incorporate common rail high pressure systems, highly efficient rotary fuel pumps to achieve both the fuel efficiency as well as emission compliance of the strictest norms which are being implemented in India under Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) CPCB 2 norms.

He adds, “Further Cooper Corporation is making highly efficient power packages using permanent magnet generators coupled with the Cooper indigenously built diesel and gas engines to give the best possible output in terms of value and quality of power.”

Propelled by rapid economic growth, India’s power generation capacity has nearly tripled in the last 15 years from 105 GW in 2002 to 315 GW in 2017. India, therefore, is currently the fifth largest electricity producer in the world. At the same time, India has a unique relationship with coal based power. On one hand, abundance of coal has made coal based power critical for energy security. On the other hand, India’s commitments to curbing pollution and greenhouse gases means we have to make the existing installed base cleaner and more efficient, while we continue to expand in renewable energy sources. “India is trying to add coal based power, increase efficiency of the Installed base, tackle emissions from coal plants and add renewable – all at the same time. This requires careful investments in technology, robust planning and good execution to ensure we don’t de-stabilise the grid, or break the bank,” says Ashok Ganesan, Managing Director, GE Power India Ltd.
The global average efficiency of coal-fired power plants currently hovers around 33 per cent, significantly lower than the 49 per cent efficiency possible for coal-fired power units that run on ultra-supercritical technology. “It is estimated that if coal-fired plants are upgraded to operate at an average efficiency of 1 point, annual carbon dioxide emissions would fall by more than 2-3 points. India is a perfect case in point, where the need for a massive upgrade and introduction of new technologies to raise the efficiency of coal-based power generation is an absolute necessity,” states Ganesan.

“Specifically, the older installed base can be economically upgraded to operate at 4 to 5 points of efficiency better than the current situation through a mix of existing hardware and software solutions. These have the potential to make these plants even competitive on total cost of electricity with New Ultra Super Critical units. In some cases, where a plant may be operating at low PLF’s specifically to help balance the grid, there are opportunities to improve part load efficiencies as well,” adds Ganesan.

GE believes efficiency is one of the fastest ways to minimise emissions. GE’s new global Powering Efficiency Center of Excellence (COE), which brings together cross-business experts in its energy businesses to apply a total plant hardware and software solution approach to boost the efficiency of the world’s new and existing coal-fired power plants and significantly reduce their emissions. Further, the company implement pollution control norms on NoX and SOX, there is an opportunity to rationalise the investment needed by exempting certain units that could be designated as peaking load units, provided those units increase their efficiency at part loads and increase their ability to flex. “Another big revolution is the digitisation of the power plants. So, in India we need to step up the up gradation of the power infrastructure through such technological interventions – including digitisation which can add 1-2 per cent of efficiency gains for minimal investment,” he says.

Power is generated by hydroelectric, coal, gas, wind and solar energy. Coal based power plants were built in majority. Wind and solar energy are used in smaller capacities. “Recently the coal based power plants are made in 600 to 800 MW as super critical power stations. The technology is mostly based on foreign designs as the major equipment like boilers and turbines to these high capacity power plants are not developed in India,” observes H P Yadav, MD & CEO, Paltech Cooling Towers & Equipments Ltd.

Power generation should be economical, reliable and durable to Indian environmental conditions. The effluent gases shall be free from pollutant gases. These require modifications in electrostatic precipitators, chimneys and cooling towers quality of coal used. Power plant equipment shall be made in India as per government policy. Economics in power generation is vital as the present cost is Rs 10 per KW hour. The quality and quantity of coal and water which are the main raw materials should be available in plenty and at cheapest price.

Yadav suggests, “In India all states, cities and towns generate garbage which is difficult to dispose and pose big problems in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi. Every municipal corporation should generate with this garbage power 5 to 30 MW so that the domestic power consumption is met with low cost. In India still many villages do not have electricity for basic domestic needs. If these power requirements are met with localised power stations for each city and municipality with local garbage will solve the problems to a large extent. For fast economic development of this country, the policy on power generation, distribution and transmission shall be revitalised and revised methodology shall be introduced to reduce the pollutants from power plants for safe and healthy living of the people as well as protecting the agricultural lands and ecology from devastation.”

With the growth expected by power sector, it is necessary that the existing infrastructure is ready for renewable energy. There is a need to have commercially viable storage technologies to use the potential of the off-grid technologies. “Commercialisation of hydrogen and fuel cells will help address the financial constraints of the storage technologies. New storage technologies will impact costs and viability, combining them with renewable will make them more acceptable at distribution and grid level,” notes Anil Sardana, CEO & MD, Tata Power.

Since solar power is the current focus of the government – a floating solar power plant can help address the problem of land availability in India while increasing the generation capacity, believes Sardana. He adds, “Tata Power has already achieved proof of concept by installing a small sized plant on its lake in Lonavala. New technologies like 3rd generation photovoltaic have reached incremental efficiencies in lab tests; we need to look at these technologies to improve output. We also need to look at various innovative technologies to achieve the target for 100 GW of solar.”

The coming of smart cities also implies that the smart grid technologies are expected to gain importance. The smart metering will be the first step towards this cause. “These technologies require huge investments but the industry does not have financial capacity to fund them. Successful implementation would require support of government programmes to provide incentives for investment with a strong policy framework,” points out Sardana.

He adds, “With regards to transmission and distribution, the UDAY scheme is a major step to address operational inefficiencies and establish financial discipline for which, technology and innovation would play pivotal role.

Divyansh Kohli, Executive Director, NDL Power Ltd believes renewable source of power generation are the key potential for developments in today’s scenario, and is undoubtedly the need of the hour and this has been established not just from the environmental point of view but also from the economic standpoint. The past year has seen somewhat of turmoil in the thermal sector, majorly dependant on the coal supply, quality and availability. However, technology do play most significant role is such renewable energy.” There have been some milestone developments in the solar generation, where the efficiency in production has effectively reduced the cost of installation. For instance, one of NDL Power Ltd’s client installed a 1MW online solar project for Rs 590 lakhs 3 years back, and a similar capacity plant is now being installed for averagely Rs 470 lakhs in the present year. “Understandably, with such reduction in capital investment, and with the significant reduced cost of production, the ROI has improved drastically. Such developments in technology as still in pipeline towards its commercialisation, which holds a bright future for the industry. Technological developments like SolarLayer where paint on your windows works as a solar panel, etc are yet to be channelised in the mainstream market. Whereas, still the challenge lies is offline solar system, where the battery plays most significant role and technological uprising has yet to reveal its possible alternatives,” he adds.
On the other hand Rajesh Nandwani, VP & Business Unit Head–Switchgear, Anchor Electricals Pvt. Ltd. says, “Power generation technology equipment is a huge space dominated by organised and unorganised players. Various technology players occupy the said space including hydroelectric, solar, wind, thermal, fossil fuel based, geothermal, biofuel, biomass, biogas based etc.”

Anchor Electricals is in the energy generation space since last 2 years and known for offering Panasonic’s No. 1 Solar PV Module HIT. The company’s electrical construction materials business offers solutions for energy conservation and protection through its switchgear and protection devices business.

The Indian power sector has witnessed a considerable change and evolution in the last two decades owing to several policy and regulatory measures. Further, continuous growth in population and increasing urbanisation and industrialisation have constantly added to the electricity demand in India, with 300 million of existing population yet to receive electricity connections and the remaining one billion population having intermittent access to electricity. To meet this growing demand, a lot of efforts are being made to boost power generation in India – by establishing new and more power plants, or by revamping and improving the existing ones in order to boost their efficiency. “Innovative and new technologies are being implemented to improve the operational efficiencies. This is further supported by increased focus on energy conservation and on the use of renewable energy, developing technologies which are economically viable to harness the abundant solar energy,” Gautam Seth, Joint Managing Director, HPL Electric & Power Ltd.

Seth adds, “In addition to rapid expansion and capacity addition, India has witnessed a series of modernisation drives as part of its agenda to upgrade the electricity grid infrastructure.” Notably initiatives around substation metering schemes, rural electrification programs, street lighting and smart metering have significantly increased demand for modern electrical equipment. Smart meters, fire resistant wires and cables, LED lighting, and gas insulated switchgear are technology adoptions that have witnessed tremendous growth in recent years. “These modern products have offered domestic and international companies new market avenues for growth where customers have readily understood the advantages associated with such upgrades and adopted for usage of the same,” adds Seth.

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