Imported Chinese power equipment unsuitable for Indian coal?

The recent significant increase in India’s power generation capacity has come at a price. Power equipment imported from China is known to be at very attractive prices compared to the going domestic rates; it accounts for already 25,000 MW, over 12% of the installed base, and for another 42,000 MW under construction. But a recent power ministry report, put out by its technical arm,Central Electricity Authority, has reportedly found Chinese power equipment thoroughly wanting when it comes to actual performance.

On actual forced outages, breakdowns and other key performance parameters, the study finds power systems manufactured domestically much more reliable, particularly when using domestic coal. It seems possible that the design features in China-made boilers and turbines do not adequately take into account the combustion requirements for Indian-variety coal. It points to the pressing need for the main Chinese power equipment makers to manufacture and carry out related research and development activity locally. A strong local presence would also place the Chinese majors at a vantage for retrofitting and after-sales services.

The policy of tariff-based competitive bidding does provide perverse incentive to source power equipment on the cheap, and we do need additional attendant norms to optimise actual performance. But along with tighter norms and operational parameters, we clearly need sustained power sector reforms for coagulating and stepping up investments.

The current high level of distribution losses and horrendous revenue leakage for the state power utilities distort electricity demand and supply and put an artificial premium on low-cost imported equipment. Such a state of affairs needs overhauling, fast.

Source : Economic Times

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