In the current situation of the power sector in India, source of coal and therefore the selection of various handling systems play a very important role. The selection of the best available solution depends on a number of factors, including the quantity to be handled, size, type of the fuel, and the fuel source.
The selection of suitable equipment is one of the most important issues related to unloading of fossil fuels, handling and transporting systems adopted in Indian thermal power stations which fire fossil fuels such as coal and lignite. The fuel unloading and transportation system adopted depends on the quantity to be handled, size, type of the fuel, the fuel source, other project requirements etc. These aspects have profound influence on the selection of unloading and handling systems.
Thermal power stations in India use different fossil fuels based on various considerations. Sub bituminous coal and lignite are the principle fossil fuels used. The theme of this article is unloading at ports and transportation to plant sites. This implies that transportation of the fuel from the source of supply is over long distances. In this scenario, only coal is to be considered for a study of this type since transportation of lignite over long distances is not in vogue. Therefore, in this article, essentially unloading of coal at ports which is in common practice and transportation to project sites is taken up for study and hence the term fossil fuel refers to coal only. In a way discussion of mine mouth stations is also not relevant to this theme. Size, quantity, quality, of the fuel and source of fuel supply are the key factors to be considered while designing a suitable unloading and transporting system.
Project Requirements in India
In the current situation of the power sector in India, source of coal and therefore the selection of various handling systems play a very important role. With the implementation of the 5x800MW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Plant project for the first time in India, the capacity of power stations for public utility has been upgraded from the erstwhile, 210MWs/250MWs and 500MWs although these units still exist and projects with such capacities are still being planned and executed. However, the main thrust is for implementation of large sized power projects. With the new trend of enhancement of the capacity, the attendant requirement of receipt and handling of larger quantities of coal as compared to that required for smaller units have to be addressed.
The required quantity of coal for operation of the boilers and the quantity of coal to be handled can be reduced if higher calorific value coal is used such as the imported coal. Importing of coal has its own inherent problems and therefore there is a need to plan projects using indigenous coal only if the problems associated with import of coal are difficult to obviate. Hence, in this article unloading and transportation of both imported and indigenous coal are discussed. Specific differences, if any, are discussed under respective section.
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