NLC India chairman and managing director M. Prasanna Kumar (Image credit: pib.gov.in)
NLC India, a Navratna enterprise under the administrative control of the Union coal ministry, has been contributing to lignite production and thermal and renewable energy generation. It has its footprint in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Its chairman and managing director M. Prasanna Kumar tells Deccan Chronicle about its plans and the works underway.
What are the key areas of NLC operations?
NLC operates three opencast lignite mines with a total installed capacity of
30 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at Neyveli, one opencast lignite mine at
Barsingsar of Rajasthan, of 2.1 MTPA and an opencast coal mine at Talabira
in Odisha, with an installed capacity of 20 MTPA. It is operating four
lignite-based pit-head thermal power stations with a capacity of 3,390 MW at
Neyveli and one 250 MW lignite-based thermal power station (BTPS) at
Barsingsar. A 1,000 MW coal-based thermal power station is in operation at
What about renewable energy works?
The company is operating 1,370 MW of solar power plants in Tamil Nadu and
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and a 51 MW wind power plant in Tirunelveli
district of Tamil Nadu. NLC is the first CPSE to cross 1 GW capacity in
solar power generation in the country. We want to be a 17-GW company, with
almost 11 GW of conventional power and six GW of renewable power, by 2030.
What do you do by reclaiming mines?
NLC is a pioneer in mine reclamation and environmental protection. We are
converting the reclaimed land into green hubs, with the water bodies, and
maintaining them. We have plans to take up solar projects on such reclaimed
land. Such a project is not available in the country. We hope that we will
be able to add more capacity.
What is the status of your methanol project?
We are contemplating a lignite-to-methanol project, which is at an advanced
stage. The tender process is on. The process involves converting lignite
into gas first and then converting that into methanol. Of all gasification
projects in the country, this is at the top of the table. Once this is done,
we will be able to convert two metric tonnes of lignite into methanol
Do you have any plans to work with hydrogen?
Yes, we want to aggressively enter into the hydrogen economy, which is the
need of the hour. We are in the process of procuring electrolysers. Once
that is completed, we will be having a pilot project of a four-megawatt
capacity for the generation of green hydrogen and subsequent uses. As a
power generating company, we already have experience of hydrogen generation
by conventional means in our power plants. So, we will be using that
experience in making this plant.
Can you tell us about an environment-friendly measure?
We have already awarded a project for the conversion of the overburden into
manufactured sand, which will cater to the requirements of the construction
industry. This helps the environment.
What are the key challenges in the power and energy sector?
The per capita consumption of power is compared to many countries. The per
capita consumption of power is an indicator of the progress of the country.
The main challenge is to increase the per capita consumption and meet the
energy requirements. Renewable energy is time-dependent and asynchronous.
So, to ensure that it is properly integrated with the grid, proper storage
systems are required. This is one challenge. However, with the initiatives
by the government, we should be able to add the battery storage capacity
The existing thermal power stations, lignite-based power stations, and
coal-based power stations are not flexible to vary the load as per the
requirement. Renewables should be integrated with the grid. Charging
electric vehicles with conventional power will not help us much. Our target
should be to charge them with renewables.
What are your plans for Telangana?
As per our corporate plan, we will be aggressively planning for the
electrical mobility sector. So, we will seek to participate in all types of
initiatives that encompass battery vehicles and energy storage across the
country. NLC is the pioneer in the energy storage system. The first energy
storage system of grid scale was established in the Andaman for
eight-megawatt hours and is successfully running. So, with that experience,
we would love to be a participant in the energy storage initiatives
announced by the government of Telangana. Given the coal availability in the
state, we may, in future, discuss setting up some thermal power plants, if
conditions favour that.