NTPC to bid 'aggressively' for coal mines abroad

The National Thermal Power Corporation, the country's largest power producer, is planning to bid aggressively for the upcoming ultra mega power projects. At the same time, NTPC is also looking to acquire coal mines abroad, as some 7-8 per cent of the total coal requirement for the company is expected to be met through imports in the near future.

R S Sharma, chairman and managing director of NTPC, said yesterday, "We are looking at Indonesia, Mozambique, and South Africa, and Australia. We have already got four to five mines proposals and we will be appointing merchant bankers and technical consultants this month."

NTPC also announced a decision to diversify beyond fossil fuels. The company, which accounts for 31,000 mw, or around one-fifth of India's total power generation capacity, has set itself a target of raising its total capacity to 75,000 MW by 2017, it said in an analyst conference in Mumbai today.

''Currently, around 88 per cent of our capacity is coal-based and 18 per cent is based on natural gas. This will be gradually changed to include hydro, nuclear and renewable sources,'' A K Singhal, director (finance), said. He added that the company had already won approval for the diversification move from its shareholders and said it was a response to increasing environmental concerns.

In three years, the company plans to increase its coal-based capacity from the current 25,000 mw to 40,000 mw, and further to 53,000 mw by 2017. Its gas capacity is also estimated to increase from the current 5,400 mw to 8,000 mw by 2012, and 10,000 mw in 2017, according to the blueprint.

Among non-fossil plants, hydropower will be the first to take off. NTPC intends to achieve a capacity of 2,000 Mw by 2012, which will be further raised to 9,000 Mw by 2017. Out of the remaining 3,000 Mw, nuclear power will account for two-thirds and renewables such as biogas will account for the remaining 1,000 Mw capacity by 2017.

The state-run power major said it was also exploring the possibility of a 1,010-mw wind energy installation in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Its entry into the hydropower sector will be through three mini hydel projects at different locations. In addition, it also plans to put up solar plants totaling 41 mw, including one in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

NTPC has also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the National Geophysical Research Institute of Hyderabad for development of geothermal energy-based power project, Singhal added.