Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Factors Affecting Capacity Utilization of Thermal Power (Coal) Plants in India

Version 1 : Received: 19 August 2020 / Approved: 19 August 2020 / Online: 19 August 2020 (11:38:11 CEST)

How to cite: Tripathi, A.K. Factors Affecting Capacity Utilization of Thermal Power (Coal) Plants in India. Preprints 2020, 2020080414. Tripathi, A.K. Factors Affecting Capacity Utilization of Thermal Power (Coal) Plants in India. Preprints 2020, 2020080414.


As on 31.03.2020, 55.4 % (205135 MW) of total installed capacity (370106 MW) in India is through coal and lignite based power plants. These plants, set up by central, state and private utilities with substantial capital investment are facing consistently reducing Plant Utilization Factor (known as Plant Load Factor, PLF, in India). In the year 2019-20 the national average thermal power PLF stood at 55.4%, down from 78.6 % in 2007-08. On the other hand, the electricity demand is consistently rising in the country and there exists a peak and energy shortage at national level. In 2019-20 energy shortage was 0.7 % and peak shortage was 0.5 %. A disturbing paradox therefore exists here. On one hand, the country is power deficit, and on the other hand, a large amount of coal based affordable power, ready to be generated by thermal power generators, remains grossly unused. Looking into the fact that considerable investment has gone into developing these thermal power generation assets in the country, the falling PLF is a matter of concern for all the key stakeholders including the power producers, lenders, regulators and consumers. This paper identifies seven major factors that are affecting PLF of thermal power plants and then makes an attempt to project future scenario of PLF so that critical stakeholders can intervene through appropriate actions. Primary research with responses from power professionals has been used to find out the major factors. Future projection of PLF has been done using Partial Least Square (PLS) regression. Projection shows that in the Business As Usual case (Factors increasing at the current CAGR rate), the thermal power plants will face very low level of PLF (14.76 %) by 2024-25. This will mean that many plants will be shut down and many will run for only few hours in a day that too at very low loads. If the future generation mix is kept as indicated by Central Electricity Authority (CEA), a Govt. of India in its report (Draft report on optimal generation capacity mix for 2029-30- CEA- Govt of India) then the thermal power plant average PLF can sustain above 68 % until 2024-25. If followed, this path can be a breather for the thermal power plants.


thermal; power plant; utilization factor; plant load factor; PLF; generation mix; renewable; future; declared capacity; NTPC; energy; peak; deficit; environment; India


Engineering, Energy and Fuel Technology

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