State-owned miner Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC India) is planning to invest a whopping Rs 75,000 crore by 2030 across mining, power generation, and new energy businesses including Green Hydrogen, Chairman and Managing Director M Prasanna Kumar told ET Energyworld in an excusive interview. Edited excerpts..
As a major mining company looking at expanding operations, what are the key focus areas of growth planning?
NLC India is the oldest energy company in the country. Its core business is lignite production and lignite-based power generation. Our initial operations were present only in Tamilnadu but now we are present across states. We diversified into coal mining and coal-based power generation earlier and have also forayed into renewables and other businesses. NLCIL is the first CPSU in the country to reach 1 GW renewable energy capacity and we want to add more and more renewables. We are known for eco-friendly operations. Our lignite capacity currently stands at 30 MT of which we produce 25 MT annually. We also have coal-based capacity from the Talabira mine of 20 MT and our target for the current fiscal is 12 MT from that.
Which are the key projects where investment plan is focused for the current financial year?
Our Ghatampur Thermal Power Plant with 3 units of 660 MW capacity is on the verge of completion. This will be commissioned before March 2024. We recently awarded 300 MW solar capacity in Barsingsar, Rajasthan. That work is in progress and the target for completion is in the current financial year. In addition, we are working on some innovative projects like Lignite-to-Methanol. For that, the tendering stage is on and we hope to finalize the award by October. Also, we have a coal block in Jharkhand where we plan to start the production by January 2024.What are your plans on the new energy front, and specifically for Green Hydrogen?
We want to aggressively enter into the Green Hydrogen business. We are planning to complete a pilot project on Green Hydrogen production in the Neyveli area which will use 4 MW renewable energy capacity. The tender document for the project, for procurement of electrolysers, is in final shape. Once that is over we will award the project by October and complete the project at the earliest. Organizations which are operating thermal power stations, such as NLC, already have the experience of Hydrogen generation and handling, as Hydrogen is already being used in Generator for cooling purposes. We can use the Green Hydrogen produced in this pilot in our thermal power plant in the initial stages till the marketing line up is set up. We want to aggressively enter the green hydrogen market, but the strategy will depend on the outcome of this pilot project.What is the long term investment roadmap worked out by NLC India for the growth and expansion you have talked about?
Currently, we have 1,371 MW solar power capacity and around 50 MW of wind energy capacity. So, our total RE capacity is 1,421 MW. We have already awarded 300 MW capacity RE projects and the work on them is in progress. Our target is to have RE capacity of over 6,000 MW by 2030. For that we require around Rs 24,000 crore. Also, we want to be a 11 GW thermal and lignite-based power company by 2030. The Talabira TPP with ultra supercritical boilers of 2,400 MW capacity is being planned near Talabira mine in Odisha. It is in the tendering stage and we are hopeful that by Oct-Nov we will be able to finalize the contract and work will be started. We also have a plan to set up a 1,320 MW power plant near Neyveli. That will be the first supercritical lignite-based power station of the country. We are hopeful that by December we will be able to award the project and start the work. Other than this, we also have a Lignite-to-Methanol project with a budget estimate of almost Rs 4,500 crore being planned. So, our total capex requirement is around Rs 75,000 crore by 2030.
How would you comment on the SIGHT scheme launched by the government for the production of electrolyzers and green hydrogen?
At present, the cost of production of Green Hydrogen is not competitive with other types of Hydrogen. So, the incentivization of Hydrogen developers is very important to compete with gray and black hydrogen. So, the policy is aimed at favoring public and private sector companies to go into hydrogen capacity addition, production and marketing. This is a welcome step.
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