Gujarat govt not to issue permits for new thermal plants

The 8-10 per cent of annual increase in power demand will be met through non-conventional sources, the statement said adding that the move will "guide" other states in the country.

In a first-of-its-kind move aimed at curbing the burning of fossil fuel for power generation, Gujarat government on Saturday announced that it will not give fresh permissions for setting up new thermal power stations in the state.

A decision to not provide permission for new thermal power projects has been taken by Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, stated an official release here. The 8-10 per cent of annual increase in power demand will be met through non-conventional sources, the statement said adding that the move will "guide" other states in the country.

When quizzed about the development, Gujarat’s energy minister Saurab Patel told The Indian Express, "In a meeting yesterday, it was decided that we will no more be going for any new coal capacities." When asked how the government plans to satiate the annual increase in power demand, Patel said, "We are going very high on solar renewable."

Gujarat currently has an total installed power generation capacity of 26800 MW. Of this capacity, 19555 MW is conventional power, while 7273 MW is capacity through non-conventional sources like solar, wind and hydro, states the socioeconomic review of the state for the year 2018-19. The private sector in Gujarat consisting of Torrent Power, Adani Power, Essar and Tata Group contributes a lion share of power produced through largely through coal.

The total power consumption in Gujarat rose by about 9.7 percent in 2017-18. During this year, 85445 million units of power was consumed in the state, as against 77881 million units in 2016-17. The highest consumption of 55.52 percent was reported for industrial and commercial use, followed by agriculture at 21.46 percent. The domestic use for power in Gujarat was 17.22 percent while the rest were for other uses like public water works and public lighting.

Though new power purchase agreements continue to signed for solar power at rates that are less than Rs 3 per unit, the Gujarat government continues to buy solar power at the rate of Rs 15 per unit from 42 different entities. The Indian Express had reported in April that of the 8,275 million units of solar power produced between 2013 and 2018, a phenomenal 4322 million units of power was bought by GUVNL as the rate of Rs 15 per unit.

Taking about the move, veteran energy expert KK Bajaj says, "Most of the thermal power stations of GSECL (Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited — a wholly owned subsidiary of Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam) are shut, due to the high cost of generation. Secondly, the Plant Load Factor (PLF) of the functioning plants is just 40 percent. So the state government is encouraging more renewable energy projects in the state."