ALAPPUZHA: When the country is reeling under acute power shortage, the Rs 1,189-crore Rajiv Gandhi Combined Cycle Power Project of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) at Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district has been lying idle. The KSEB stopped purchasing power from the plant in 2017 because of the high cost per unit of power (around Rs 15), which forced NTPC to stop production.
However, when the stares at a power crisis because of the nationwide coal shortage, the NTPC plant could have come to its aid. The KSEB and NTPC signed a new purchase agreement last year to buy solar power from the plant at Rs 3.16 per unit and the work on the floating solar station is progressing. The agreement says if the state needs power using naphtha, a prior notice of 45 days would have to be given to begin production.
The 359-MW naphtha-based plant is now facing a shortage of fuel. Last March, the plant functioned for nearly 25 days to exhaust the stock of around 18,000 tonne of naphtha, which had accumulated on the premises of the company. The power thus generated was bought by KSEB at Rs 3.16 per unit. The company placed a tender to shift the remaining small quantity of naphtha to Gujarat recently to avoid possible fire accidents.
According to an official, the new agreement signed between NTPC and KSEB says the production of energy will begin only after the prior notice of 45 days. “This is the time needed to import or arrange naphtha from other places,” an NTPC official said.
“If KSEB asks, the company can start production on a war footing. Now, KSEB is purchasing electricity from other sources at nearly Rs 20 per unit. The NTPC can supply power at Rs 15 and it would be more beneficial to KSEB to manage the present crisis,” the official said.
Solar plant delayed
The KSEB signed the power purchase agreement at Rs 3.16 per unit from the floating solar plant. The plant was to be commissioned this year but with the Centre imposing restrictions on imports from China following the Galwan Valley faceoff, the project is delayed. “Solar panels for setting up the 92-MW floating solar PV power station at NTPC Kayamkulam had to come from China. However, we are yet to receive them due to restrictions. This has delayed the commissioning of the project,” the officer said. Tata Power Solar (70 MW) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (22 MW) bagged the contract of the floating solar project work. The project is being implemented at a total cost of Rs 465 crore. A total of 2.16 lakh solar panels will be mounted on floaters.