This ambitious plan underscores the resurgence of coal-based power units. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, power consumption in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, has seen a sharp increase, even surpassing traditionally high-demand industrial states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu. Notably, in August and September, as the national peak power demand reached a record 240 GW, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with a demand fluctuating between 25-28 GW.
Presently, MUNL operates a 1.32 GW thermal power project in Meja, UP. The enterprise aims to augment this with an additional three units, summing up to 2.4 GW, at the same location. The UP Cabinet has already greenlit a 1.6 GW Obra D power project, which MUNL will undertake. Another project of similar capacity at Anpara E is also in the pipeline.
Sunil Kumar, CEO of MUNL, speaking to Business Standard, expressed that the 5.6 GW projected capacity symbolises the state government’s faith in MUNL’s capabilities and the mounting demand for cost-effective electricity. He emphasized that this would position MUNL as NTPC’s premier joint venture.
Kumar highlighted the state’s surging power requirements, attributing it to increased electrical connections and commercial growth. “Much of this capacity addition is being allocated to us,” Kumar remarked.
These plans by MUNL and the UP state government mirror the intensifying reliance on coal-powered electricity. With renewable energy growth trailing behind electricity demand, states are returning to coal to cater to future needs. Kumar pointed out that MUNL’s coal is supplied by three Coal India Ltd subsidiaries, ensuring UP receives reasonably priced power.
Emphasising MUNL’s innovative approach, Kumar noted the company has streamlined its project construction process. “Instead of juggling 40 different contracts, we now award a unified engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) tender, drawing attention from international firms,” he added.
The thermal EPC sector, previously dominated by BHEL, has welcomed international companies like GE, Toshiba, and Hitachi. This shift is due to the growing electricity needs and increased dependency on coal-based power.
Kumar further shared the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies such as supercritical power units and flue gas desulphurisation (FGD). These technologies not only enhance operational efficiency but also control emissions.
“Compared to sub-critical units, which have around 35 per cent efficiency, supercritical units boast over 40 per cent efficiency,” Kumar elaborated.
Supercritical units are more fuel and water-efficient, produce more electricity, and have reduced emissions than their sub-critical counterparts. FGD technology, either retrofitted in older units or incorporated in new ones, removes sulphur from thermal power unit emissions.
MUNL predominantly provides electricity to Uttar Pradesh, with the remaining supply going to states like Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.