Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) was incorporated in August 1993 to augment Gujarat’s generation capacity. Following the unbundling of the Gujarat Electricity Board in 2005, GSECL became a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL). Since then, the company has built a diverse power generation portfolio. At present, the company’s total power generation capacity is around 5.9 GW comprising a mix of coal, lignite, gas, hydro and renewable energy projects. In a recent key development, the company commissioned an 800 MW project in March 2019. It is the first supercritical technology-based project commissioned by the state genco.
The company has also consistently strived to improve its operational performance through a number of measures, including renovation and modernisation (R&M) of several of its units. It is now gearing up to meet the revised emission norms for its coal-based fleet, besides developing renewable energy projects.
GSECL owns a total installed capacity of 5.9 GW, most of which comes from seven thermal power plants aggregating over 4,968 MW (four coal-, one lignite- and two gas-based power stations) and two hydropower plants aggregating 540 MW. Apart from these, the company has set up 24 MW of renewable generation projects – 10 MW of wind and 14 MW of solar power projects.
GSECL’s thermal power portfolio comprises four coal-based plants – Ukai Thermal Power Station (TPS) (1,350 MW), Gandhinagar TPS (870 MW), Wanakbori TPS (1,470 MW) and Sikka TPS (740 MW); one lignite-based (Kutch Lignite) TPS (290 MW); and two gas-based plants – Utran power station (510 MW) and the Dhuvaran gas-based combined-cycle power plant (595 MW). (In September 2016, however, the Gandhinagar TPS decommissioned its Units 1 and 2 (120 MW). In April 2017, the Ukai TPS and Sikkai TPS also decommissioned their Units 1 and 2 (120 MW).
The newly commissioned 800 MW unit at the Wanakbori power station based on supercritical technology is located in Kheda district. The main order for the project was awarded to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in December 2014 at an estimated cost of Rs 353,651 million. Significantly, this was the first-ever 800 MW unit in the country to be developed on an engineering, procurement, construction basis. The boiler was supplied by Alstom and the turbine generator by Siemens. GSECL has signed a power purchase agreement with GUVNL for the project.
As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the company’s coal-based plants generated about 22.91 BUs during 2018-19, a marginal increase from the 22.19 BUs generated in the previous year. GSECL’s coal-based power generation has increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.77 per cent between 2013-14 and 2018-19. The average plant load factor (PLF) of its stations increased from 39.82 per cent in 2013-14 to 65.4 per cent in 2018-19. The highest PLF of 71.34 per cent was achieved by the Ukai TPS in 2018-19.
During 2018-19, the Dhuvaran and Utran gas-based power plants cumulatively generated 1,118 MUs as compared to 853 MUs in the previous year. The PLF of the two gas-based power stations, however, remained low at around 13.44 per cent and 12.77 per cent, respectively, on account of shortage of domestic gas supply.
The company’s hydropower capacity comes from the 305 MW Ukai hydropower station on the Tapi river (four units of 75 MW each and a 5 MW canal hydropower station) and the 240 MW Kadana power station on the Mahi river (four units of 60 MW each). According to the Central Electricity Authority of India, the hydropower stations cumulatively generated 447.9 MUs in 2018-19, which was about 26.8 per cent less than the 612 MUs generated during 2017-18.
On the renewables front, the company’s 10 MW Kutch wind project located in Bayath comprises eight windmills of 1.25 MW each. It has also set up a 1 MW canal- top solar photovoltaic (PV) project on the Narmada branch canal near Chandrasan, Mehsana. In addition, there is a 1 MW ash dyke solar PV project in Gandhinagar and a 10 MW PV project in Charankaare, which have been operational since 2012 and 2015 respectively. At the Sikka and Kutch lignite TPSs, the company has installed 2 MW pilot agri-solar PV power projects.
During the five-year period from 2013-14 to 2017-18, GSECL’s total income increased at a CAGR of 12.92 per cent, from Rs 62.6 billion-Rs 101.76 billion. During the same period, its total expenditure also increased from around Rs 60.65 billion-Rs 95.8 billion. In terms of year-on-year performance, the company’s total income increased by 25.75 per cent in 2017-18 from Rs 80.92 billion in 2016-17. The company’s total expenditure also increased from Rs 78.2 billion in 2016-17 to Rs 95.8 billion in 2017-18, recording a growth of about 22.5 per cent. The net profit after tax increased significantly by over 490 per cent, from Rs 383 million in 2016-17 to Rs 2.29 billion in 2017-18.
The R&M of old units has been a key focus area for the genco. As part of the Energy Efficiency R&M programme, GSECL completed the retrofitting of LMZ turbines and boiler back pass modification at its Ukai TPS Unit 4 (200 MW) and Wanakbori TPS Unit 3 (210 MW) in 2017. Post its completion, the efficiency of these units has improved substantially. A similar R&M programme for the Ukai TPS Unit 5 (210 MW) is currently in the proposal phase. Meanwhile, to meet the emission control norms, GSECL has upgraded the electrostatic precipitators at Units 3, 4 and 5 of the Ukai TPS and Units 1, 2 and 3 of the Wanakbori TPS. The tender for the installation of flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) systems in the remaining coal-based units is currently under preparation. For Unit 8 of the Wanakbori TPS, work for FGD installation has been awarded. Further, the tenders for FGD implementation in Unit 6 of the Ukai TPS and Units 3 and 4 of the Sikka TPS are currently under finalisation.
On the renewables front, projects of about 175 MW are currently under planning and implementation.
A major challenge faced by the company’s coal-based power plants is that the increasing penetration of renewables has resulted in frequent cyclic operation and start/stop of coal-based units, which leads to a deterioration in operating efficiency of units and increased thermal stresses resulting in fast consumption of the main plant equipment and auxiliaries. For gas-based power plants, a major challenge has been the availability of cheap domestic gas for running its plants. The gas required for full load by both its gas plants is around 4.12 million standard cubic meters per day (mscmd). Currently, only 0.33 mscmd is being received at the Dhuvaran plant, which is sufficient for running only one of its units at a technical minimum load of 16 hours. Spot gas is costly as it is based on the international crude index. Further, taxes like value-added tax, custom duty and goods and services tax make gas-based generation unviable.
In spite of an overall improvement in the efficiency levels of power gencos, the operational efficiency of GSECL’s power stations is still lower than the normative targets set by the regulator in terms of plant availability factor, PLF, auxiliary consumption and station heat rate. This is due to the vintage of the plants and high operating overheads, notes a recent ICRA Ratings report.
Another challenge for the company has been its recent merger with Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited (BECL), which has an operational lignite-based asset (two units of 250 MW each). In August 2018, GSECL received approval to merge with BECL. However, delays in the commencement of lignite supply and a lack of required water supply have affected BECL’s operations. Over the past six months, lignite supply has started, and water availability has improved. This will allow the plant to reach the normative plant availability in the medium term. However, the current operational risk at BECL is likely to impact the profitability of the merged entity to some extent notes ICRA in its report.
While there is sufficient power in Gujarat, an increase in power production will ensure that it remains attractive for industries and enterprises. To this end, GSECL is taking initiatives to augment its capacity, improve operational performance and grow its renewables base.