Coal producer CIL plans to harness solar power

  • If coal gets all the blame for pollution, the country's biggest producer of this fuel — Coal India Limited (CIL) — has plans on clean energy. The PSU mining company has drawn up plans to generate 1,000MW of solar power, starting with Madhya Pradesh. The project will be eventually spread to other states like Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, where CIL has its subsidiaries.

  • Going solar is an effort to offset the pollution which coal creates in general, said CIL chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya. He was in the city to attend a seminar organized for young executives of the company. CIL is laying special stress on young manpower.

  • The Solar Energy Corporation of India is the consultant for the project. Wherever there is land available in mining areas, it will be used to fix photovoltaic panels for generating electricity. Most of the power generated in this way can be used for captive purposes within CIL itself, said Bhattacharya. The project may begin in 3-4 months.

  • About the cost, he said that by the current standards, a 1,000MW project requires over Rs630 crore or so. However, with the fast changing market dynamics it may happen that by the time the project is implemented, costs may come down, said the CIL chairman.

  • CIL is also stressing on providing better quality coal to its customers. Officials from the subsidiary companies will be meeting state government authorities to chalk out plans in this direction. Various methods of providing better quality of coal are being explored so that there is no scope for disputes. City-based Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), a CIL subsidiary, has already begun talks with Mahagenco, the major consumer of this company. There are plans to soon offer crushed coal to the consumer. The samples are already being tested through a third party to get an impartial opinion

  • Alternate routes to roadways also need to be explored for transport of coal, Bhattacharya said. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MLC), which is located in Orissa, can use the seaport from the eastern coast. A large amount of coal can also be transported through river route. The options are being worked out, he said. For example, WCL has established a conveyor belt for transporting coal from one of the mines. This not only reduces chances of pollution but also prevents transit losses to a great extent, he said.

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