Lignite-to-power producer NLC India (NLCIL) is charting a corporate strategy to expand its presence in coal and lignite mining, thermal power plants (TPPs), renewables and energy storage, its Chairman and Managing Director Prasanna Kumar Motupalli noted. Speaking to businessline, he said the CPSU aims to invest more than ₹90,000 crore to transform into an integrated clean energy behemoth by 2030. Excerpts:


Q. What is NCL India’s Corporate Plan 2030?

We aim to transform from just being a miner and power generator to an integrated energy company with presence across solar and wind power, energy storage systems (ESS), green hydrogen, overburden-to-sand, lignite-to-methanol, etc. by 2030. NLCIL is already the first CPSU to add 1 gigawatt (GW) RE. We are also the first in India, in fact in Asia, of this scale to leverage specialised mining equipment (SME). In Neyveli, three big mines and four TPPs are in operation, but pollution is low. We planted over 3 crore trees. We also want to get into critical mineral exploration in India and abroad.


Q. What are your expansion plans for thermal power capacities?

Overall, we have thermal capacity of 4.6 GW, which we aim to increase to 11.14 GW by 2030. Capex will be around ₹49,941 crore. Currently in Neyveli, we have around 4 GW of thermal capacity. We want to add 1,320 MW here and this will be the first lignite-based ultra supercritical boiler in India. I think Asia too. Tender process is on and in Q1 FY25 we expect to award. Completion will be before 2030. Ghatampur TPP first unit commercial operation declaration is expected within a month. In Talabira (Odisha), near our mine, we are envisaging 3,200 MW thermal capacity. Of this, 2,400 MW has been awarded to BHEL. For remaining, we are going for a tender process.


Q. What are your plans for adding renewables?

We have been early starters. Currently we have 1.4 GW of RE, of which 1.35 GW is solar and 50 megawatt (MW) wind energy. Our target is to take this to 6.97 GW. The capex for this is about ₹28,512 crore. Already, over 2 GW is in pipeline. Besides, there is a lot of potential in Neyveli area to use mine reclaimed land for solar. We have awarded 50 MW solar here. Once it is operational, it will be the biggest solar plant in reclaimed mine area in India. There is potential for 2 GW capacity in reclaimed land. This will be after completion of 50 MW. We also have a 20 MW solar plant with 8 MWh battery storage in Andaman and Nicobar, which so far consumes electricity from diesel. So, three years back we set up this plant and now it is saving a lot of diesel and curbing emissions also. We are also exploring pumped storage projects (PSPs) in mined out land in Neyveli. We have given contract for DPR preparation. There is potential for 200 MW PSP here. In Phase-1 we will go for 35 MW. We will also going for tender for electrolyser. Once that is received, we will have a pilot plant for making green hydrogen and it will be used in our TPPs for cooling.


Q. What are your plans for increasing mine output?

Our core competencies are in coal and lignite mining. Currently, mining capacity is 32.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), which is envisaged to reach 102.5 MTPA by 2030. Capex on this will be around ₹11,714 crore. It will be done in mine developer and operator (MDO) model. I think Talabira was the first mine in India to have a successful MDO model. Pachwara South coal block (Jharkhand) is expected to start production by July-August 2024. It’s good quality coal mine with 9-10 MTPA capacity and will feed Ghatampur TPP. We got a commercial coal mine (North Dadu in Jharkhand) and has 4 MTPA capacity. We can sell this coal in open market. In Neyveli, we will develop mine-3, but not immediately. This will be done after other expansions happen.


Q. What are your plans on asset monetisation?

We want to monetise our 1.4 GW RE capacity under government’s asset monetisation programme. We formed NLC India Renewable Energy for asset monetisation and will hold the 1.4 GW capacity. The assets are of almost Rs 8,000 crore. We will bring IPO and sell 49 per cent. We have to bulk transfer the assets from NLCIL. Its with Finance Ministry now. After approval, we will bring the IPO, likely by Q4 FY25. Our monetisation target for FY24-FY26 is ₹5,000 crore. We will use the proceeds for expansion. Besides, NLC India Green Energy will hold all the new and upcoming RE assets. This will help us get tax advantage.

(The writer was in Neyveli on NLC’s invitation)