Udangudi Super Critical Thermal Power Project

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Udangudi Super Critical Thermal Power Project is a proposed 3,960-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Tamil Nadu, India.

In 2021, Tangedco momentarily announced it would shift the Uppur power station to Udangudi.

Location

The undated satellite photo below shows the power station at Udangudi Village in Thoothukudi District. The location is about 650 Km south of Chennai and 45 Km from Thoothukudi.[1]

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Background

The project was proposed by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). Phase I would be 2 x 800 MW, and phases II and III would be 4 x 660 MW.

It was proposed that a project-specific jetty be built at Udangudi with coal transported to the power station via a conveyor system.[2]

In 2012, Udangudi Power Corporation stated on its website that "the required clearances from the concerned agencies are being obtained and the final clearance from MoEF will be obtained shortly. The proposed date of commencement of the project activities at site is Apr 2012 and the proposed date of commissioning of the plant will be 2016 - 2017."[3]

In 2012, chief minister J. Jayalalithaa cancelled the deal with BHEL. The government said Tamil Nadu Electricity Board would implement the project on its own, and fresh tenders were floated in 2013.[4]

In March 2015, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board scrapped the bids for the power station, now 1320 MW, saying the bids were defective. The board said it would float fresh tenders soon, but it may take more than a year to finalize a new contractor to execute the project.[4]

In January 2018, a foundation stone was laid at the proposed project location. A construction contract for the plant was awarded to BHEL. Plans include establishing a captive coal jetty to import coal for the plant. Construction began on the jetty in mid-2018, and completion is planned for 2021. In September 2018, it was reported that fishermen were protesting construction of the jetty, saying it affected fish migration and restricted their movement.[5]

Construction on the coal plant began in 2019. The plant was reported to be 2 x 660 MW.[6]

Following severe flooding at the construction site caused by monsoon rains in December 2019, local residents alleged that check dams had been broken to allow the removal of stagnant water. The flooding suspended construction work.[7]

As of May 2022, the project was planned for 2024.[8][9]

Phase II and III

In September 2015, TANGEDCO applied for a terms of reference for a phase II and III, each also 2 x 660 MW, which was approved in November 2015.[10]

There had been no known developments on phases II and III since 2015, so they appeared to be cancelled.

However, in March 2022, it was reported that the energy department had approved acquisition of 607 hectares for the setting up of stage 2 and 3.[11]

As of July 2022, the expansion was still not permitted.[12]

Opposition and impacts

The project is threatening the environment, marine biodiversity, and livelihood of the fishing and farming community:

"The coal jetty constructed 8 kms inside the sea is a threat to the fishing community, while the subsequent possibility of seawater intrusion would affect the farming community. Considering the imported coal requirement for the project, the subsequent higher cost of production and the history of severe pollution from different TPS in Tamil Nadu, the local people and environmental activists continue to demand the scrapping of the project. However, the completion of 40% of construction works in Phase 1. Environmental activists question the need for more coal-powered TPS, while the installed capacity of the state is 33,500 MW against the peak demand hovering around 17,000 MW. Several countries have begun to abandon TPS and are moving towards renewable energy sources."[13]

In addition, in June 2022, Thoothukudi Environment Protection Movement Coordinator V Gunaselan also said that accidents caused by stray cattle because of the plant had a social impact that was not studied by the Tangedco authorities. Tangedco did not conduct a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) which mandated Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. "Though the project was initiated in 2008, much earlier to the land acquisition act, it was revised during 2016 and the land earmarked previously was also changed. But the authorities did not conduct SIA," he said.[14]

Uppur proposal

Uppur power station is a proposed 1,600-megawatt (MW) coal plant in Tamil Nadu, India.

In March 2021, the NGT directed Tangedco to conduct "a fresh coal analysis and study the bridge issue" for the plant. The environment ministry was directed to issue a revised Environmental Clearance after conducting an independent enquiry through its Expert Appraisal Committee. The EC was in abeyance.[15][16]

In May 2021, faced with continuous hurdles, Tangedco reportedly decided to shift the Uppur power station project to Udangudi in Thoothukudi to overcome various issues like the National Green Tribunal order, land litigation, local people agitation, and establishment of the railway line to transport coal. Udangudi is about 200 kilometres away from Uppur.[17]

However, in November 2021, the new state government, which came into office in May, was reportedly working on restarting the power plant in Uppur. (This appeared confirmed by notes in the government's November 2021 Broad Status report.[8]) Two officials from project operator told Reuters that more than 30% of the work was complete and at least 10 billion rupees ($134 million) had already been invested. The officials expect the first of the two units of the Uppur project to be completed in late 2025 or early 2026 (while the first unit at Udangudi was estimated to be ready by 2024).[18]

Ownership

Before TANGEDCO, the project was sponsored in 2008 by Udangudi Power Corporation - a joint venture company under the auspices of state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and the TamilNadu Electricity Board.[19][2][20]

In 2013, BHEL said it has exited Udangudi Power Corp. by selling its entire stake to joint venture partner Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corp. (Tangedco). Following its restructuring in 2010, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board’s stake in the joint venture was transferred to Tangedco.[21]

Coal supply

Udangudi Power Corporation proposed that it will need 6.74 million tonnes per annum of coal which it states will be sourced from "Talcher Coal fields of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited in Orissa state and 30% Imported Coal from Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, China, etc.)"[22]

Financing

In January 2018, the Rural Electrification Corporation signed a loan agreement of US$1.64 billion with TANGEDCO for the Udangudi Thermal Power Project.[23][24]

Alternatives

According to a 2021 report titled “White Elephants – New Coal Plants Threaten Tamil Nadu’s Financial Recovery” by Climate Risk Horizons, Tamil Nadu could see a further deterioration of its fiscal situation if it proceeds with the Udangudi Stage I and II (formerly Uppur) projects. Combined, the Udangudi Stage I & II projects will result in an increase in state debt of at least R 20,000 cr. as well as raise power purchase costs, implying either a tariff hike for consumers or an increase in state subsidies. Opting for a combination of renewable energy and battery storage instead of building these coal plants could save the state R 15-20,000 crores over a 6 year period from 2024 to 2030, according to the analysis.[25][26]

Project Details

Sponsor: Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation
Location: Udangudi village, Thoothukudi district, Tamil Nadu
Coordinates: 8.434722, 78.061111 (exact)
Status: Construction (Units 1-2); Pre-permit development (Units 3-6)
Nameplate capacity: 1,320 MW (Units 1-2: 660 MW); 2,640 MW (Units 3-6: 660 MW)
Type: Supercritical
Projected in service: Units 1-2: 2024[27]
Coal Type:
Coal Source: Talcher Coal fields of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited in Orissa (70%) and 30% Imported Coal from Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, China
Estimated annual CO2: 28,385,763 tons
Source of financing: US$1.64 billion in debt from the Rural Electrification Corporation[23][24]
Permits and applications:

Articles and resources

References

  1. Environmental Impact Assessment TNEB, undated
  2. 2.0 2.1 Udangudi Power Corporation Limited, "About Us", Udangudi Power Corporation Limited website, accessed June 2010.
  3. Udangudi Power Corporation, "About the project", Udangudi Power Corporation website, accessed January 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 B Sivakumar, "Udangudi power plant tender scrapped," TNN, Mar 15, 2015
  5. "Fishermen protest construction of coal jetty for Udangudi plant," Times of India, September 17, 2018
  6. "Monthly Report on Broad Status of Thermal Power Projects in the Country," Government of India Ministry of Power, November 2019
  7. "Check dam found broken near upcoming Udangudi Power Plant in Thoothukudi," New Indian Express, Dec 15, 2019
  8. 8.0 8.1 “Broad Status Report,” Thermal Project Monitoring Division, Central Electricity Authority, November 2021
  9. “Broad Status Report of Under Construction Thermal Power Projects,” Central Electricity Authority, May 2022
  10. "Standard ToR," India MoEF, Nov 2, 2015
  11. "Land acquisition begins for Udangudi power plant," March 3, 2022
  12. "Proposal Name: Udangudi Super Critical Thermal Power Project Stage - II (2 x 660 MW) and Stage - III (2 x 660 MW)," PARIVESH, accessed July 2022
  13. "Udangudi Thermal Station a Threat to Environment, Livelihood of Fishermen, Activists Say," News Click, June 1, 2022
  14. "Udangudi power plant work pushes 300 cattle off grazing field," New Indian Express, June 20, 2022
  15. "Environmental clearance granted to to Uppur Thermal Plant kept in abeyance," Times of India, March 17, 2021
  16. "NGT stays construction of Uppur thermal power plant," The New Indian Express, March 18, 2021
  17. "Tangedco to shift Uppur project to Udangudi over legal hurdles," DT Next, May 1, 2021
  18. "In India, Tamil Nadu eyes coal power reboot despite local fears," Reuters, October 31, 2021
  19. TamilNadu Electricity Board, "Power Projects", TamilNadu Electricity Board website, accessed June 2010.
  20. Joseph Vackayil, "New projects to make Tamil Nadu power surplus by September 2012," Financial Express, March 2, 2009
  21. "BHEL exits Udangudi Power Corp joint venture," Live Mint, Mar 29, 2013.
  22. Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB), Tamilnadu, "Rapid EIA and EMP for the proposed 2X800 MW Udangudi Thermal Power Project", Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB), Tamilnadu, page 2.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "REC to lend ₹10,453 cr for TN power project," Hindu Business Line, Jan 12, 2018.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Udangudi Coal-fired Power project, Tamil Nadu, India". Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  25. "White Elephants – New Coal Plants Threaten Tamil Nadu’s Financial Recovery," Climate Risk Horizons, October 2021
  26. "Udangudi Stage 1&2 projects will worsen Tamil Nadu finances, raise power tariffs," Climate Risk Horizons, December 14, 2021
  27. “Broad Status Report of Under Construction Thermal Power Projects,” Central Electricity Authority, May 2022

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