Foundation Stone for NLCIL Talabira Thermal Power Project

Foundation Stone for NLCIL Talabira Thermal Power Project


Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the 2,400 MW Supercritical Thermal Power Plant in Sambalpur, Odisha, aligning with the vision of promoting Thermal Power Plants at pit-head for cost reduction in coal transportation.


GS-03 (Renewable Energy, Infrastructure, Government Policies & Interventions)

Key highlights:

  • Government Approval for Ultra Super Critical Thermal Power Plant: The Ministry of Coal has approved the establishment of a 3 x 800 MW Ultra Super Critical Thermal Power Plant at Talabira through NLCIL, aiming to utilize Talabira coal mines with total reserves of 553 million tonnes.
  • Operational Cost and Efficiency: The pit-head plant is projected to generate electricity at a cost of Rs. 3.65 per unit, comprising Rs. 2.40 fixed cost and Rs. 1.25 variable cost, making it one of the country’s most cost-effective power generation units.
    • The plant emphasizes higher efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, and an eco-friendly biomass co-firing initiative.
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat Vision: The project, valued at over ₹27,000 Crore, is in line with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, aiming to provide reliable, affordable, and continuous power to enhance the nation’s energy security and contribute to economic growth.
  • Captive Coal Blocks and Sustainability: The pithead power station is intricately linked to NLCIL’s captive coal blocks, Talabira II and III, ensuring sustainability in the power generation process. The project focuses on reduced environmental impact and increased efficiency.
  • Power Purchase Agreements and EPC Contract: Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have been secured for the supply of 800 MW to Odisha, 1,500 MW to Tamil Nadu, 400 MW to Kerala, and 100 MW to Puducherry. The Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract for the Main Plant, valued at ₹18,255 Crore, has been awarded to BHEL, with the first 800 MW unit expected to be commissioned in 52 months.

Thermal Power Sector in India:


  • Electricity is produced in a thermal power plant through the conversion of heat energy into electrical energy.
  • The plant employs fuel, such as coal, to generate elevated temperatures, transforming water into steam within a boiler.
  • The thermal power sector holds a significant position in India’s electricity generation, contributing approximately 75% to the total installed power capacity.

Environmental Concerns and Impact of Thermal Power Plants:

  • Thermal power plants are major emitters of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and pollutants, leading to air pollution and posing health risks to nearby communities.
  • Excessive water consumption by these plants contributes to water scarcity in certain regions.

Challenges in Coal Supply and Import Dependency:

  • India’s thermal power plants heavily rely on coal, often imported, resulting in supply disruptions and price fluctuations.
  • In FY22, coal imports had amounted to 208.93 million tonnes, valued at Rs 2,28,741.8 crore.

Financial Health and Operational Issues:

  • Many government-owned thermal power plants face financial losses due to factors such as rising coal prices, low demand, and other economic challenges.
  • Some plants have been forced to shut down or operate at reduced capacity.

Modernization Needs and Ageing Infrastructure:

  • A considerable portion of India’s thermal power plants, established in the 1970s and 1980s, requires modernization to meet current environmental standards.
  • The process of upgrading these plants involves substantial costs.

Renewable Energy Competition and Decreasing Demand:

  • The decreasing cost of renewable energy poses increased competition for thermal power plants.
  • As demand for thermal power decreases, plants face profitability challenges, impacting their operational sustainability.

Different types of Thermal Power Plants:

To generate electricity, thermal power plants require fuel. These power plants are constructed on a large scale and tailored for continuous operations in commercial applications. The various types of thermal power plants in India and globally include:

  • Coal-Fired
  • Gas
  • Diesel or Liquid Fuel
  • Geothermal
  • Biomass
  • Waste Material

Prominent Thermal Power Plants in India:

The major players in India’s thermal power landscape are coal-fired plants, and a significant number of them are owned and operated by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). Here are some of the major thermal power plants in the country:

Vindhyachal Thermal Power Station, Madhya Pradesh:

  • Located in Singrauli district, Madhya Pradesh, Vindhyachal Power Station is currently the largest thermal power plant in India.
  • Owned and operated by NTPC, it boasts a capacity of 4,760 MW and relies on coal sourced from the Nigahi mine.
  • Construction began in 1982, with the first unit commissioned in 1987.

Mundra Thermal Power Station, Gujarat:

  • Situated in the Kutch district of Gujarat, Mundra Thermal Power Station is the second-largest thermal power plant in India.
  • A coal-based plant, it imports coal from Bunyu, Indonesia, and is owned by Adani Power.
  • With a power generation capacity of 4,620 MW, it ranks as the 11th-largest single-location coal-based plant globally.
  • Commissioned between 2009 and 2012, it houses nine generating units.

Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant, Madhya Pradesh:

  • Owned and operated by Reliance Power, Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant is located in Sasan village, Madhya Pradesh.
  • It has an installed capacity of 3,960 MW and was commissioned in 2015.
  • The electricity generated from this coal-based plant serves seven states in India.

Tiroda Thermal Power Plant, Maharashtra:

  • Adani Power operates the Tiroda thermal power plant in Maharashtra, boasting an installed capacity of 3,300 MW.
  • Utilizing supercritical technology, it draws water from the Wainganga River.
  • Commissioned in 2012, it achieved the highest plant loader factor of 90.84% during the 2015-2016 operational year.

Talcher Super Thermal Power Station, Odisha:

  • Owned and operated by NTPC, Talcher Super Thermal Power Station is a coal-fired plant in the Angul district of Odisha.
  • It was the first plant in India to have an installed capacity generation of 300 MW.
  • Commissioned in 1995, it consists of six 500 MW units, supplying electricity to multiple states, including West Bengal, Telangana, Odisha, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • These thermal power plants play a crucial role in meeting India’s energy needs, although they face challenges related to environmental impact, resource supply, financial health, and aging infrastructure.