In thermal power, the major source of energy are coal, diesel and natural gas that are used for generation of electricity.
- Thermal power is the largest source of power supply in the country.
- The installed capacity of thermal power stations is about three times the installed capacity of the hydel power.
- During 2004-05 share of thermal power was about 80,903MW out of 1,18,419MW of electricity produced in the country. This is approximately 68% of the total electricity produced in India.
Share of thermal electricity increased very rapidly after creation of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in the year 1975. Presently, NTPC has to it’s credit 13 coal based super thermal power projects and seven gas/liquid fuel based. During the 2004-05, NTPC produced 24,435 MW which is about 30% of the all India thermal production during the same period. Coal based thermal power units-have been set up near the coal mines to avoid transport costs. Transmission of power over long distances is relatively cheaper despite some loss of energy in transit.
Super Thermal Power plants have been established mainly very close to big coal mines. These are –
- Singrauli (U.P.),
- Korba (Chhattisgarh),
- Ramagundam (A.P.),
- Farakka (W.B.),
- Vindhyachal (M.P.),
- Rihand (U.P.),
- Kawas (Gujarat),
- Gandar (Gujarat) and
- Talcher (Orissa).
Most of these power plants have improved their efficiency and profitability through improved plant load factor (78% against the national average of 63%) with the electrification of trunk routes railways have also set up their own super thermal power stations in the regions lying away from major coal fields. In Tamil Nadu there is a big thermal power plant at Neyveli which is fed by local lignite coal field.
Besides coal based thermal power plants, the latest trend is to encourage diesel and natural gas based thermal power plants. Such plants can be set near the distribution or market centres. The gestation period of oil or gas based plants is generally the shortest. These plants are also found to be more efficient than coal based plants. The oil and gas pipes have to be laid for continuous supply of petroleum and natural gas for such power plants.
As India is poor in its mineral oil and proven gas resources, it has to import these raw materials including naptha etc. from Middle East countries. The Dabhol Thermal Power plant of Maharashtra on the Konkan coast is based on such imported raw material. This plant is an indicator of the new trend.
Petroleum based power units have been set up in the remote areas of North East and Himalayan region.
It is very interesting to note that Karnataka and Kerala states in South have not a single thermal power plant till now.
Bibliography : NIOS Geography Book