Coal India prepares ₹1L cr plan to diversify into aluminium, solar sectors
The government has approved state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL)’s ₹1-lakh-crore diversification plan to set up two aluminium plants in the eastern region and an entire solar module manufacturing value chain, including India’s first polysilicon facility to compete with China, two people aware of the development said.
CIL will set up three specific-purpose vehicles (SPVs) for an about ₹45,500-crore integrated solar wafer manufacturing facility, a ₹38,000-crore green-field aluminium project, and an about ₹23,400-crore aluminium smelting unit with state-run National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO), they said, requesting anonymity.
“SPVs have been created for equity participation by private investors and experienced corporate entities from across the globe in the three projects,” one of the persons said.
Coal secretary Anil Kumar Jain said: “In order to achieve net zero carbon emission, Coal India has to think beyond coal. It has to diversify and reduce dependence on coal.”
He, however, declined to give specific details of the three projects. Speaking at the convocation of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month that India aimed to reduce its carbon footprint by 30-35% in this decade.
Jain said Coal India is one of the key engines of growth for the eastern India and it will continue to play its leadership role in development of the region. “More than 3 lakh people work in the company, which has significant economic impact for the eastern part of India. Therefore, Coal India has to continue its lead position as key contributor of the region’s economy besides meeting the country’s energy needs,” he said.
Besides diversification, Coal India will continue expansion of its existing projects to meet country’s coal demands, Jain said. The company has a plan to invest ₹2.45 lakh crore in next two-three years to expand its business, which includes the ₹1 lakh crore diversification plan. Coal minister Pralhad Joshi on September 1 this year announced that CIL would invest over ₹1.22 lakh crore by 2023-24 to augment coal output. CIL is world’s largest coal miner and it produces over 80% of India’s overall coal production.
Giving details of the solar project of CIL, a second person mentioned above said the value chain will involve ingot wafer, cell, module and generation. “It will have first facility of polysilicon in India. Currently, China has about 90% monopoly in its manufacturing. Thus, this is a major step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan [Self-reliant India Initiative],” he said.
“Electricity is about 60% of the cost of production in a polysilicon facility, which will be supplied through a dedicated power plant at very economical rate, which will make the plant globally competitive,” he added.
The location of the project is yet to be identified by the government, he said, adding that global consultant Deloitte has been shortlisted to advice CIL on matters such as potential private partners and technical collaborations.
Both Coal India and Deloitte did not respond to email queries on this matter.
The greenfield aluminium plant and another aluminium smelter plant with NALCO are part of the company’s diversification strategy, which will be fired by captive thermal power units, the first person said. “The two units are expected to come up at Orissa and Jharkhand. The second location is preliminary selected for the greenfield project because of availability of bauxite. But, no final call has been taken as yet. The government will take a final call soon,” the person said.