NLC India Moving Towards Hybrid RE Projects: Prasanna Kumar, CMD

Highlights :

Prasanna Kumar Motupalli is the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of NLC India Limited (NLCIL), a Public Sector Enterprise dealing with the mining of lignite and coal and producer of electricity. He assumed the charge of CMD in January 2023. Before NLC India, Motupalli worked as the MD of Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd (GSECL).

NLC India is one of the largest renewable energy generating PSUs in south India. It has also forayed into producing solar power and other renewable energy sources in the past few years. In an exclusive interview with Saur Energy, Motupalli shares the plans of NLCIL on its plan to increase the adoption of renewables. Excerpts:




NLC India Moving Towards Hybrid RE Projects: Prasanna Kumar, CMD NLC India CMD Prasanna Kumar

Saur: What are the significant works NLCIL undertook in the past few years to boost its renewable portfolio?

CMD: NLC India Limited (NLCIL) was an early bird central PSU to venture into the renewable sector. Our first renewable energy project was awarded in 2013 with a 51 MW wind power project. Later, we shifted towards solar. We are also the first CPSU to reach 1 GW renewable energy capacity in the country and held the position for a long duration.

We installed renewable power on the Andaman island. We established a 20 MW solar power project with an 8 MWh Battery energy storage system for smoothening the power output from the project, a first-of-its-kind attempt in the country. We are the major solar power generation source in Tamilnadu. Currently, a project to the tune of 300 MW is under implementation at Barsingsar, Bikaner District, Rajasthan. 

Another project is proposed to be developed at Khavda Solar Park, Gujarat. A tender has been floated for developing a 200 MW Solar project on a pan-India basis along with a 150 MW Wind Solar Hybrid project. 

Saur: Do you have a net zero target with specific deadlines now?

CMD: As energy generators, NLC India’s approach towards Net Zero targets will differ entirely. With renewable energy generation targets through RPO and RGO being implemented, this itself will guide our pathway to have our trajectory toward Green energy targets. Certain hard-to-abate sectors will be in the Net Zero transition; those sectors may take a little longer to onboard to the net zero targets until a viable alternative is identified and implemented. We are working on the Net Zero Targets and are yet to be finalized.

Saur: There were talks about forming a subsidiary of NLC India for renewable power and its public listing. What is the progress on that front now?

CMD: NLC India Limited has incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary, NLC India Renewables Limited, to take over all the renewable energy assets of NLC India Limited. The subsidiary was formed with an eye on focusing the entire efforts of that company towards renewable energy projects. A focused approach towards RE will reap much higher benefits. As of date, there is no plan to list the WOS.

Saur: What are your mid-term and long-term targets and investment plans to boost your renewable portfolio? 

CMD: Our corporate plan envisages 6,031 MW renewable energy capacity by 2025. This capacity is proposed to be revised upward in the upcoming corporate plan. Our overall capex plan for 2030, including all thermal and mining projects, works out to Rs 75,000 crore. Currently, we have an additional commitment to developing 2,060 MW of renewable energy projects and upon reaching a stable position of developing this capacity, we will further ramp up our RE endeavour. 

NLC India is also in the advanced stage of signing a Joint Venture Agreement with Assam Power Distribution Company Limited for developing a 1000 MW solar project in Assam. We are contemplating establishing a 2000 MW Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Park in Tamilnadu through a proposed JV Company with TANGEDCO and PFCCL. 

Saur: Plan to go beyond solar and wind?

CMD: Our main focus is one power generation from the proven source of power generation–solar and wind. We plan to go into Battery Energy Storage System and Pumped Storage System, complementing the grid stability. We are moving with a Wind-Solar Hybrid project with a better CUF than standalone RE projects. Actions are also underway for bundling the renewable project with the existing Thermal Project under a flexible power generation mechanism. 

Saur: Any work towards Green Hydrogen? 

CMD: Considering the potential available in the Hydrogen economy, we are also doing our groundwork to study the dynamics of the Hydrogen ecosystem. We are trying to leverage the lessons learned in the small Hydrogen plant operation in thermal stations. We are discussing with various technology providers to set up a Green hydrogen-generating facility in Neyveli with a 4 MW Solar Power project. Being so much in a primitive state, our actions are limited to pilot-scale ventures. We wish to scale it up to production levels only upon technology getting proven. 

Saur: Any plans to explore ways towards decarbonizing lignite and coal mining operations?

CMD: Yes, we are adopting sustainability in all our actions in mining & power generation, too. In mining, we are acting on afforestation measures, reclaiming mined-out land for cultivation and other activities like waste-to-wealth actions and others. 

Considering the latest developments, we have joined hands with TNA, an organization into sustainability measures in mining areas through various innovative measures. For the first time in the country, NLCIL is planning to establish a 50 MW solar power project in the mined-out land of Mine II area. This project will be an example of large-scale development of such projects. 

NLCIL is also in the process of establishing a 0.4 MTPA lignite to methanol project at Neyveli in a bid to support the Union government’s gasification target. In power generation, apart from developing renewable Energy Power Projects, we are establishing ultra-supercritical thermal power stations with all the latest emission control devices like Flue Gas Desulphurization Units and Selective Catalytic Reduction Units.

Saur: Do you plan to scale up coal and lignite production too? What is the plan and target for that as of now?

CMD: NLC India’s Corporate Plan envisages establishing a mining capacity of 84.1 MTPA by 2030. Talabira II & III Coal mine is set to produce 20 MTPA from the current 12 MTPA capacity. NLCIL is in the advanced stage of operationalizing the South Pachwara Coal Block in Jharkhand, the linked mine for the Ghatampur Thermal Power Station Project. 

We have recently won the North Dadu Coal Block in Jharkhand under commercial coal block allocation from the Ministry of Coal, which is set to produce tentatively 3 MTPA. To support GoI’s initiative in developing domestic coal production, NLCIL will participate in all the upcoming commercial coal block auctions and try to develop prospective blocks.

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