Mumbai, Dec 7 (IANS): Repurposing some of the oldest and most expensive coal power plants by using the land and some of its old infrastructure to generate clean energy can give benefits of around Rs 5,700-crore, a new study has said.
The first of its kind analysis -- commissioned by Climate Risk Horizon -- was conducted by Dr. Gireesh Shrimali, Head of Transition Finance Research, the University of Oxford's 'Oxford Sustainable Finance Group'.
It has made a quantification of costs and benefits associated with retiring and repurposing 4,020MW of the old coal units at Nashik, Chandrapur, Bhusaval (Jalgaon), Koradi and Khaparkheda (both Nagpur).
Dr. Shrimali's report states how Maharashtra can maximise financial gains from repurposing the older units, gradually reducing its dependence on coal in the coming decade, in tune with India's Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Climate Accord.
"Maharashtra is among the leading states in the country's energy transition efforts. The study demonstrates how the repurposing of the state's older expensive coal plants can provide a financially attractive opportunity to accelerate the transition that is beneficial to the state's finances," said CRH CEO Ashish Fernandes.
He added that these old coal units are near or past their end of life and have high running costs, up to Rs 6/kWh, plus they need to be retrofitted with air pollution control equipment to comply with emission standards, at considerable expense.
Earlier studies have already shown how retiring old coal plants and replacing them with new, renewable energy can generate huge savings by way of reduced electricity costs.
However, he said the CRH analysis specifically considered the plants in Maharashtra, the detailed decommissioning costs and financial benefits that could be derived from repurposing the existing assets like land, electrical infrastructure for a combination of a solar PV, battery storage and grid stabilization services, he said.
"The financial gains of repurposing some or all of these (old) coal plants could be between 2-4 times the costs of decommissioning and would cover a substantial proportion of the new capital expenditure required for solar, batteries and synchronous condensers,a said Dr. Shrimali on his findings.
The total decommissioning costs for the units assessed was around Rs 1,756 crore, while the one-time benefits from repurposing for solar PV with battery storage would be Rs 4,357 crore, as per the study.
If the old power plant turbo generator is also repurposed to serve as a synchronous condenser, the benefits would go up to Rs 5,700 crore, said the CRH-commissioned study.
All these would reduce the cost of renewable energy generated to Rs 1.87 and Rs 2.69 per unit for solar PV and PV with battery storage, respectively, providing the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company with a cheap source of flexible power, added Dr. Shrimali.
With the severe air and water pollution problems caused by coal plants, it is imperative that Maharashtra reduce its dependence on expensive and obsolete coal plants, long term solutions not just for public health but also to arrest the rise in electricity prices, urged Green Plant Society President Suresh Chopane.