With technology from Foster Wheeler, Essar expects big play in power plants

M. Ramesh Chennai | Updated on November 18, 2011 Published on November 18, 2011

Tech is eco-friendly; fuel flexibility is a big advantage

With a technology-transfer agreement with the US power major Foster Wheeler under its belt, Essar Projects expects a large play in India in what is touted as the ‘future technology for India's power sector'.

The technical agreement is for thermal power boilers of the ‘circulating fluidised combustion bed' type. CFBC is said to be the future of India's power sector. It is impossible to give up coal-based plants altogether, given the preponderance of coal in India's power sector.

And if coal has to be used, it had better be through CFBC route, says Dr Arjun Bharatan, Senior Vice-President, Plant Technologies Group, Essar Projects Ltd.


CFBC boilers are environment-friendly because they do not let out harmful gases. Harmful substances such as sulphur are mixed with limestone and removed. But the attractiveness of CFBC boilers today is more due to their ability to handle any kind of fuel. This is a big advantage because, for example, when coal prices are high, it is possible to use a blend of coal and some other low cost fuel such as lignite.

The CFBC boilers cost about 10 per cent more, but their fuel flexibility is a big advantage, says Mr William Rajkumar, Vice President – Stem Generators, Plant Technologies Group, Essar Projects.

Fuel flexibility

If India adds 75,000 MW of thermal power capacity, it would need 3 billion tonnes of coal. Flexibility to mix or switch fuels, depending upon their market prices, is said to be a huge advantage.

With Foster Wheeler's backing, Essar Projects offers high a combination of CFBC and supercritical boilers.

In India, the biggest operating CFBC boilers are of 135 MW (though Neyveli Lignite Corporation is close to commissioning a 250 MW plant). The biggest operating CFBC-supercritical plant is the one that was set up by Foster Wheeler at Lagisza in Poland. But the Samcheok Green Power plant of the Korean Southern Power Company, is putting up four units of 550 MW each.

These CFBC-supercritical plants, expected to begin generation in 2015, are also of Foster Wheeler technology.

Under the technology licence, Essar is obliged to buy the pressure parts from Foster Wheeler for the first three projects. Foster Wheeler is likely to supply the components from its plant in China.

For the subsequent projects, Essar is free to buy from any of the Foster Wheeler-approved vendors.

Published on November 18, 2011
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