The Union Ministry of Power has decided to replace about 58,000 million units (MU) of power produced from 30,000 megawatt (MW) capacity in central, state and private thermal power stations, with renewable energy by 2025-26. The move is part of the plans to achieve 500 gigawatt (GW) of non-fossil fuel-based installed capacity by 2030.

In a communication to all CMD's of power stations and utilities, Ghanshyam Prasad, joint secretary of the ministry, says the year-wise trajectory for replacement of thermal power will be 4,737 MW (9,129 billion units) in 2023-24, 8,290MW (15,976 BU) in 2024-25 and 10,658 MW (20,541 BU) in 2025-26. While central-owned power stations will replace 33,260 BUs from 17,258 MW capacity, state-owned power stations will replace 12,386 BUs from 6,427 MW and the private sector has to replace 12,224 BUs from 6,343 MW.

"All central public sector undertakings (CPSUs), state, and power generation utilities should take appropriate action to meet the trajectory as per the target, i.e., 20% in FY 2023-24, 35% in FY 2024-25, and 45% in FY 2025-26," says the communication. The renewable power required for substitution is calculated at a capacity utilisation factor (CUF) of 22%.

The move is estimated to conserve 34.7 million metric tonnes (MMT) of coal and reduce carbon emissions by 60.2 MMT, says the ministry. Currently, India’s installed renewable energy capacity, including large hydro projects, is only about 150.4 GW.

Even though station wise targets have been worked out, a thermal generating station can substitute larger amounts of thermal power with RE power over and above the targets fixed by the government. The targets fixed for thermal units are the lowest minimum that has to be achieved in the coming years, clarified the government.

The tariff policy provides for the bundling of renewable energy with thermal energy and a detailed mechanism for allowing flexibility was worked out in April 2018. Two months ago, a revised scheme for "Flexibility in Generation and Scheduling of Thermal/Hydropower stations through bundling with Renewable Energy and Storage Power" was also issued by the ministry, to improve renewable energy utilisation.

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