A recent study by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has found that when run on domestic coal, public sector Bhel’s coal-fired power hardware score higher than Chinese equipment on critical efficiency parameters such as operating heat rate, load factor and secondary fuel oil consumption. This finding may help Bhel, currently coping with a slump in order flows due to delays in implementation of many power projects, regain some lost market share.
Bhel’s 250-mw and 500-mw units and China-made 300 mw and 600-mw equipment were taken for comparison by the CEA for a study titled, “Analyse the Performance of Chinese Equipment vis-a-vis Indian (Bhel) Equipment”. However, China-made equipment did relatively better when the plant was fired with imported coal. Bhel’s equipment were not tested on imported coal.
Chinese vendors, such as Dongfang and Shanghai Electric, have taken away a significant chunk of the market from the domestic equipment maker in recent years by offering 15-20% lower prices. Chinese suppliers also offer financing to lure Indian power companies. As a result, private companies prefer Chinese vendors.
For example, equipment supplied by Chinese manufacturers accounted for about one-third of the 55,000 mw added in the country during the 11th Plan period (2007-12). Chinese suppliers have also maintained their market share for orders placed for equipment supply to 12th Plan period projects.
The CEA report found that the operating heat rate of Chinese power equipment works out to 2,719 kcal/kWh compared to 2,520 kcal/kWh for Bhel gear. A higher heat rate means a power plant is less efficient in converting fuel into electricity, according to industry experts.
Similarly, Chinese-origin equipment scored lower than Bhel hardware on operating load factor, another critical performance parameter for a thermal power plant. The load factor of Chinese equipment averaged 57.2% during the study while it stood at 71.6% for Bhel gear. Bhel equipment also delivered a more reliable performance than Chinese-origin hardware.
Bhel equipment also outdid Chinese hardware on secondary fuel oil consumption. The fuel oil consumption of Chinese equipment was 6.13 ml/kWh while it was just 3.06 ml/kWh for Bhel gear.
However, Chinese power equipment did relatively better when used in a plant run on imported coal. For example, the operating heat rate of Chinese equipment worked out to just 2,275 kcal/kWh. Similarly, the operating load factor of the equipment supplied by Chinese vendors averaged 80.4%. Secondary fuel