Gujarat successfully operates its coal plant at 40% load in a first to support integration of renewable energy

Gujarat successfully operates its coal plant at 40% load in a first to support integration of renewable energy

Gujarat made its first successful move to achieve greater load flexibility at its coal-based plant to boost integration of renewables. With support from USAID, Gujarat’s state power generation utility successfully operated its 500 MW Ukai unit at only 40 per cent (200 MW) of its capacity during a recently conducted low load test run. This is the first time that the Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) has been able to run its Unit to the lowest possible load points while still maintaining all the other operating parameters under stable conditions and without any supplementary oil firing support. These test run results will enable GSECL to further optimize its operating costs and customize its load under future flexible operating conditions.

In future, these low load test runs will allow the utility to identify their ability and adaptability to reduce its generation when asked by the system operator for integrating more renewable energy and remain synchronized with the power grid. The test runs are the building blocks to the adoption of the nationwide roadmap for flexible operations of coal-power plants, which is a key strategy to meet India’s ambitious target of 175 GW RE addition by 2022. The capability of GSECL to operate its plant flexibly i.e. reduce generation to minimal level and ramp up (generate more when required in short duration) will also help Gujarat meet its target of achieving 30 GW of RE installation by 2022. The low load test run was conducted, under a pilot implemented under USAID’s Greening the Grid (GTG) – Renewable Integration and Sustainable Energy (RISE) initiative, in partnership with GSECL and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), which is the Original Equipment Manufacturer. Every coal-plant has its own vintage, plant specifications and thermodynamic characteristics and to lower the plant load it requires a detailed procedure with the list of actions that should be taken in the event of faults or potential dangers. The test runs carried out at Ukai unit followed the low load/ramp procedures developed by GTG-RISE & BHEL, which would serve as the guiding tool while developing and implementing a long-term flexibilization road map for the county.

Over the past three (3) years, USAID through its GTG–RISE project has undertaken a techno-economic feasibility study of flexible operation of GSECL’s coal plants, produced a business case for policy and regulatory incentives for flexible operations, trained the plant operators and are developing GSECL’s fleet wide strategy. Flexible operation of coal powered plants support generating utilities to adapt to the energy transition, which is a key parameter under modern utilities pillar of Asia EDGE initiative.

“Today with all the support of USAID’s GTG Program and BHEL, we have successfully achieved the milestone of conducting low load test run. Our long partnership with USAID through GTG enhanced GSECL’s confidence to carry out these test runs. The outcomes of test run would enable GSECL to plan its fleet wide strategy for 5000 MW of its coal -based thermal units towards flexible operations to support renewable integration.”

B A Gandhi, Executive Engineer (Efficiency), GSECL.