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  • The coal-based power generation segment continued to remain under pressure during the past year. Capacity additions slowed down with only 8 GW being added in the last fiscal vis vis record additions until 2015-16. At the same time, the rapid increase in renewables led to the share of coalbased power coming down to 57 per cent (August 2018) in the fuel mix from 59 per cent a year ago.

  • Coal-based PLFs remained low, although they showed signs of firming up. The national PLFs inched up marginally to 60.52 per cent in 2017-18 and 60.5 per cent in the first five months of the current fiscal. However, the PLFs for private IPPs remained depressed at sub-55 per cent levels. The segment is still awaiting workable solutions for addressing the issue of stressed assets, estimated at nearly 40 GW of existing and under-construction capacity.

  • A number of policy and regulatory interventions have been made in the past one to two years to provide some relief to the segment. A high-level committee has recently been set up to address the issues of stressed assets. A warehousing framework for stranded assets (Pariwartan) is also in the works. Meanwhile, the amendment of concluded PPAs for imported coal-based projects is on the cards.

  • A pilot scheme was introduced last year for centralised procurement of coal-based capacity and selling to states through the competitive bidding process. This gave some relief to the commissioned plants that have not been able to despatch power due to the non-availability of PPAs.

  • Further, the uncertainties associated with the recovery of huge investments in emission control systems have now been addressed with the government notifying that the additional cost will be allowed as pass-through to the off-takers under change in law. Even though compliances are still at an early stage, emission control equipment installation is expected to pick up pace with many utilities awarding bids or issuing tenders for FGDs. So far, three FGD units have been commissioned for 1.8 GW of capacity vis vis a target of 160 GW by 2022.

  • Earlier in 2018, coal supplies to winners under the first round of auction under the SHAKTI mechanism began. However, despite the increase in coal supplies to the sector, shortages continued to grow. At the end of the second quarter of 2018-19, coal inventory at power plants stood at only seven days. Coupled with higher energy demand, domestic coal availability constraints led to a sharp increase in spot power market rates. The shortages have been acknowledged by the government and the states have been asked to import coal to tide over the shortage.

  • Amidst these challenges, thermal power plants are responding to a changing market through flexibilisation and digitalisation strategies in order to transform operational risks to competitive advantages. Improved O&M practices that incorporate real-time asset monitoring along with data and predictive analytics are also being adopted by plant owners to ensure higher efficiency and cost savings..

  • The mission of this conference is to provide a platform to stakeholders to discuss the key challenges facing the coal-based power generation segment as well as highlight the solutions and strategies needed to address them. The conference will also examine key recent developments, the challenges in meeting emission norms, the impact of flexibilisation, and the coal supply outlook, besides focusing on operational issues such as O&M, energy efficiency, and coal washing. It will also provide a platform to showcase best practices, emerging technologies and solutions in the coal-based power generation segment.
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