Thermax plans to expand geothermal energy biz

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on January 24, 2011

Mr M.S. Unnikrishnan, MD, Thermax   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Looking to set up plant in Konkan region of Maharasthtra

Pune-based engineering solutions company Thermax is expanding its footprint in the geothermal energy space.

After Puga in Leh, the company is looking at developing a power plant based on geothermal energy in the Konkan region of Maharashtra.

The company is planning to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA), an arm of the State Government, which promotes use of non-conventional energy.

A power plant based on geothermal energy harnesses the continuous heat from the earth's inner layers for electricity production. In certain areas the earth's crust is more conducive for setting up the plants. In Maharashtra, such favourable areas are found on the coast, from the Maharashtra-Gujarat border to Rajapur in Konkan region.

Thermax has a joint venture with Reykjavik Geothermal, an Iceland-based company, for developing the geothermal energy business in India. The joint venture is developing a 3-MW geothermal plant in Puga valley, Leh on an experimental basis.

Phase I

Mr M.S. Unnikrishnan, Managing Director of Thermax, told Business Line that the company has got a block around Rajapur for exploring geothermal energy. In the first phase, a geological study would be conducted by non-invasive means and depending on the success of this phase, further investigation would be carried out by drilling 1 km deep experimental wells, he said.

He said that currently it is difficult to predict the size of the plant as the size of the geothermal field is not known.

“If we come across a large geothermal energy field, which could produce about 100 MW of power, then we could even form a separate company for setting up that plant,” Mr Unnikrishnan said.

He said around Rs 10 crore is required developing one Megawatt of geothermal energy. Since the heat continuously emanates from the earth's crust the load factor of the plant is about 99 per cent.

According to an international geothermal expert, the power tariff from geothermal plants is comparable to a thermal coal plant, which is in the range of Rs 2 to Rs 3 per unit, while power from solar units are being sold at Rs 15 per unit.

Published on January 24, 2011

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