The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) is planning to install a 500 MW solar power plant at Kadaladi in Ramanathapuram district with the support of the Central government.
Billed as the largest such plant to be established by a power utility, the project is covered under the Centre’s solar power parks programme. A sum of ₹15 lakh has been sanctioned for the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR).
At present, the total installed capacity of solar power plants in the State is around 2,000 MW. Besides, plants for 1,500 MW are being planned.
The State government had originally proposed to set up a 4,000 MW coal-fired thermal power project at Kadaladi. But the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change struck down the proposal, as the three possible sites identified for the project came under the buffer zone of the Marine National Park of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve. The EAC had also advised the power utility against the drawal or discharge of water from or to the Gulf of Mannar. Apart from looking for an alternative site, Tangedco has decided to get technical opinion on whether a power plant of the same size with air cooled condensers could be set up. “In all likelihood, the original thermal power project may not fructify,” an official said.
Giving an account of the five ongoing thermal power projects, the contracts for which have already been awarded, the official said that eight units with a total capacity of 5,660 MW would be commissioned in the next five to seven years. In addition, the NLC India Limited will be setting up a 4,000 MW pithead thermal power project in Talabira, Odisha, in lieu of an equal-sized project at Sirkazhi in Nagapattinam district.
The official added that with the Power Grid Corporation planning to set up several inter-regional transmission corridors, it would be cheaper and more viable for the State to have pithead power stations in Odisha or Jharkhand in view of the lower wheeling charges there, rather than having projects in its territory, which invariably lead to problems, ranging from the identification of ideal locations to land acquisition and environmental issues.