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BHEL to get tech edge

the Centre is in the process of formulating its strategy to empower BHEL with this super-critical power generation technology.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2006 01:43 IST

The UPA government has taken upon itself to enable the state-owned heavy electric equipment behemoth BHEL to acquire 800 MW super-critical technology from international majors, Siemens and Combustion Engineering.

Sources divulged that the Centre would place an order to acquire ten units of 800 MW each capacity on BHEL through negotiated price route. The rider will be that by the time last unit is supplied for installation, foreign partners Siemens and Combustion Engineering will have to transfer super-critical know-how to BHEL. It is learnt that a five-member inter-ministerial group with representatives from Ministries of Finance, Heavy Industry and Power and NTPC and Central Electricity Authority (CEA) would be set up to negotiate the price at which BHEL–Siemens–Combustion Engineering combine would supply the super-critical 800 MW coal-fired generating units.

Sources stated that apart from guaranteeing coal for these units to be set up by NTPC and other central power utilities, the Centre might also consider relaxing the mega power policy to allow for enhanced tax incentives and benefits to keep the cost at competitive rates.

The issue has already come up before the Committee of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary BK Chaturvedi. Once the COS approves, the issue will be referred to the Union Cabinet for a final nod.

Already, BHEL has a joint venture with Siemens that led to transfer of sub-critical 500 MW power plants technology while boilers are being sourced from various venders, with Alstom topping the list.

Interestingly, there is a view within the government that other European, US or Japanese technologies for super-critical 800 MW technology transfer be explored before going ahead with the Siemens tie-up.

In a recent tender of NTPC, barring a few Russian, Korean and Chinese companies, there were hardly any major US, EU or Japanese players that bid to supply the 660 MW power plants. The Centre is of the view that by deploying the 800 MW super-critical technology power generation stations, it can hasten up capacity addition and keep the per MW investment at manageable levels. The 800 MW units seem to be more efficient by four per cent in terms of steam utilisation and can be erected, constructed as well as commissioned in less than 45 months as against 52 months taken for 250 MW and 500 MW units. Saving on the fuel and lowering the carbon dioxide emissions is yet another issue that kept centre inclined in favour of the 800 MW power plants.

Sources stated that the Coal Mining and Planning Development Institute as well as National Remote Sensing Agency had conducted extensive studies on the technology options as well as development of pit-head and coastal power projects across the country. Based on these two studies, the Centre is in the process of formulating its strategy to empower BHEL with this super-critical power generation technology, it is learnt.