Mahagenco: Pioneering efforts for renewable energy expansion

Maharashtra State Power Genera­tion Company Limited (Maha­ge­n­co) was established in 2005, follow­ing the restructuring of the Maha­rashtra State Electricity Board. Today, it has a well-balanced generation portfolio of over 13.16 GW across coal, hydel, gas and solar power plants, making it the largest power generation company in India after NTPC Limited, with the highest generation capacity amongst all state generation utilities in the country. Maha­genco has increased its capacity from 10,096 MW in 2007 to 13,164 MW at present. It is currently actively working on in­s­talling flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) systems at various thermal power stations (TPS) to make them more sustainable. Mean­while, the genco is also gearing up for mo­­re renewable energy capacity additio­ns, as well as replacing its old and inefficient coal-based units with mo­re efficient supercritical technologies.

Operational performance

Currently, the total installed capacity of Mahagenco stands at around 13,164 MW. Of the total capacity, 72.47 per cent (9,540 MW) is coal-based, 19.60 per cent (2,580 MW) is hydropower, 5.10 per cent (672 MW) is gas-based, and the remaining 2.82 per cent (372 MW) is solar power.

The major coal-based plants include the Chandrapur TPS (2,920 MW), the Koradi TPS (2,190 MW), the Khaparkheda TPS (1,340 MW), the Bhusawal TPS (1,210 MW) and the Parli TPS (750 MW). The realisation of coal for 2021-22 was 72.01 per cent, as against 70.04 per cent in the previous year. Specific coal consumpti­on during 2021-22 was 0.77 kg per kWh, as against 0.8 kg per kWh in the year be­fore. Specific coal consumption dec­re­­a­s­ed while the coal quality improved in 2021-22, compared to the previous year. The average gross calorific value of coal fired for 2021-22 was 3,176 kcal per kg, as against 3,081 kcal per kg in the previous year.

Of the total hydro capacity, the Koyna hydropower plant is the largest, with a capacity of about 1,956 MW. Mahagenco also owns a 250 MW pumped storage hydro project at Ghatghar, and various small hydropower stations of over 370 MW capacity.

The company has a 432 MW gas turbine power station at Uran comprising four units of 108 MW capacity. It also has a 240 MW waste heat recovery plant in its project portfolio.

The major solar plants operated by Ma­ha­genco include the 125 MW Dhule solar plant, the 50 MW Baramati solar plant, and the 50 MW Osmanabad solar plant. In 2023, the utility commissioned three solar plants with a combined ca­pa­city of 11.76 MW in Walekhandi, Na­ge­wadi and Songaon.

As per Central Electricity Authority’s mo­nthly generation report data, Maha­genco generated 53,232 million units (MUs) of coal-based power during 2022-23, recor­ding a growth of 7.1 per cent, as compared to 49,705 MUs of power generated during 2021-22. The plant load factor (PLF) for coal-based power plants during 2022-23 was also higher at 61.91 per cent, as against 56.38 per cent in the previous year. Meanwhile, the company’s hydro­power generation declined by 3.4 per cent from 4,079 MUs in 2021-22 to 3,941 MUs during 2022-23. The utility generated 1,491 MUs of gas-based po­wer during 2022-23, recording a decrea­se of 28 per cent compared to 2,070 MUs of power ge­neration during 2021-22. For gas based plants, the PLF was 25.33 per cent, as against 35.16 per cent in the previous ye­ar. During 2021-22, the company’s sol­ar power generation stood at 255 MUs.

Financial performance

Mahagenco’s total income decreased by 0.47 per cent from Rs 236.26 billion in 2020-21 to Rs 235.16 billion in 2021-22. During the same period, the total expenditure increased by 10.3 per cent, from around Rs 232.28 billion to Rs 256.21 billion. Meanwhile, the company recorded a net loss of Rs 16.46 billion in 2021-22, as against net profit of Rs 2.52 billion in 2020-21.

Emission control and FGD installation plans

To comply with the new environmental norms for SOx emissions, Mahagenco is installing FGD systems at various TPSs. Out of the proposed FGD systems for 8,700 MW of capacity (23 units), orders have been issued for 1,880 MW of capacity (eight units), and work is in progress at the rest. Mahagenco has tied up with Power Finance Corporation of India Limited/REC Limited for funding.

In terms of technology, the company is im­­plementing a wet limestone FGD system at the 2×250 MW Paras TPS and a dry sor­bent injection FGD system at the 2×210 MW Khaperkheda TPS, the 1×210 MW Koradi TPS and the 3×250 MW Parli TPS.

The tendering process is at an advanced stage for the 3×660 MW Koradi TPS, the 2×500 MW Bhusawal TPS, the 5×500 MW Chandrapur TPS, the 1×500 MW Khape­rk­heda TPS, the 2×210 MW Khaperkheda TPS, and the 2×210 MW Chandrapur TPS. In addition, Mahagenco has propo­sed retrofitting work for electrostatic precipitators at the 210 MW Khaper­kh­eda (Unit 1 and 2) and 500 MW Chan­drapur (Unit 5 and 6) power stations.

Going ahead, Mahagenco is looking forward to installing most FGD systems wi­t­hin the timeline prescribed by the Mi­nistry of Environment, Forest and Cli­mate Change.

Future plans

Going forward, Mahagenco’s vision is to grow sustainably. One of the key ongoing projects is 660 MW of capacity addition at the Bhusawal thermal power station, ex­pected to be completed in 2023-24.

It has also proposed to set up a coal-based power project based on efficient supercritical technology to replace its old capacity as well as to help meet the increasing power demand and to generate power at a lower cost than the average cost of power generation. The 2×660 MW Koradi supercritical technology coal-based power project is proposed to be set up at Nagpur in Maharashtra, re­pla­cing various retired/retiring units of Mahagenco. The project will be equipp­ed with FGD and selective catalytic reduction systems. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 106.25 billion, including interest during construction and financing charges. The project is expected to be completed by 2028-29. A detailed wa­s­te management programme and an environmental management plan have been developed to mitigate the pollution potential during the construction and operation of the plant. The project will meet all the stipulated environmental norms. Additionally, freshwater use will be minimised by maximising the use of wastewater, and through rainwater harvesting. The project will lead to a sub­stantial improvement in socio-eco­no­mic conditions in and around the project site.

The company’s board has also approved the conducting of a feasibility study for the 1×660 MW coal-based Chandrapur project. In addition, Mahagenco has pr­o­posed a project to replace its combined cycle power plant at the Uran gas turbine power station (GTPS) through the installation of two new advanced F-class machines on the land available in the Uran GTPS premises. Pre-tendering ­ac­­ti­vities for the project are in process. After obtaining the necessary clearances fr­om the government of Maharashtra and Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Co­mmission (MERC), and concurrence from Maharashtra State Electricity Dis­tri­bution Company Limited, the tender for the installation of the project will be floated. The project is expected to be completed by 2025-26.

The utility has also planned various so­lar projects under different models, whi­ch should result in significant capacity addition over the next seven years. This includes 588 MW through the Chief Mi­ni­ster Agri Scheme, 602 MW under the engineering, procurement and cons­tru­c­tion (EPC) mode, the 250 MW Dond­ai­cha solar park via public-private part­ner­ship, and a 105 MW floating solar project at Erai dam.

With respect to the EPC projects, work is in progress for 187 MW of solar projects, while 415 MW is in the pipeline. For the 205 MW Dondaicha solar park, Maha­genco has issued a letter of award to Tata Power Saurya Limited. MERC has appro­v­ed a tariff rate of Rs 2.51 per kWh for the Dondaicha solar park, keeping Rs 0.07 per kWh as the trading margin for Maha­genco. Further, SJVN Limited has secur­ed a 105 MW floating solar project thro­u­gh an e-reverse auction held by Maha­genco, at a tariff of Rs 3.93 per unit. The company bagged the solar project on a build, own and operate basis, and the tentative cost of development will be Rs 7.30 billion. The project will be commissioned within 15 months from the date of signing of the power purchase agreement. After commissioning, the project will generate 230 MUs in the first year and 5,420 MUs over a period of 25 years.

In June 2023, Mahagenco signed an MoU with SJVN for the development of 5,000 MW of renewable energy projects in Maharashtra, including hydro, pum­ped storage, wind, solar, hybrid and green hydrogen projects. Further, SJVN and Mahagenco will jointly participate in tenders floated by the Government of Maharashtra for the renovation and modernisation of small hydropower stations operated and maintained by Mahagenco.

With these robust plans and expansion strategies, supported by strong operational performance and a strategic focus on the development of renewable energy, Mahagenco is expected to maintain its position as one of the strongest power utilities in the country.