It was 1975, as India celebrated its 25 years of Independence a few years back. The growing country needed development, and a robust power sector was crucial.
However, until then, power generation in India was primarily carried out by state electricity boards, which faced several issues, such as lack of funds, outdated technology, and poor operational efficiency.
A need was felt to establish a centralized organization focusing on efficiently and rapidly expanding the country’s power generation capacity. The idea was to create a company with access to the latest technology, resources, and expertise that could work towards meeting the country’s growing energy demands.
On November 7, 1975, a new Indian company was established under the Companies Act of 1956 to industrialize and boost its power generation capacity rapidly.
National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)
NTPC was tasked with building and operating thermal power plants across the country. Seven years later, in 1982, the company commissioned its first power plant at Singrauli in Uttar Pradesh (now in Madhya Pradesh). Since then, it has expanded its operations to become one of India’s largest power generation companies.
The establishment of NTPC was a significant milestone in India’s power sector. It began a new era in power generation, characterized by modern technology, efficient operations, and a focus on sustainability.
The company even expanded its presence beyond India with investments in power projects in countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. It also diversified into other areas, such as coal mining, power trading, and equipment manufacturing.
In May 2010, NTPC became a ‘Maharatna’ or crown jewel, a status accorded by the Indian government to those companies that deliver greater financial and authoritative autonomy that helps them grow and compete globally. The company has been among the top companies in India in terms of market capitalization and revenue.
NTPC – Green Journey
Until the turn of the millennia, like most traditional power generation companies, NTPC produced most of its power from burning coal. As realizing the harmful impact of coal power generation grew stronger, India’s largest power company started its foray into the renewable energy sector.
In 2002, NTPC commissioned its first wind power project in Muppandal, Tamil Nadu. Eight years later, NTPC set up its first solar power plant at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, with a capacity of 5 MW. Since then, the company has expanded its renewable energy portfolio to include solar, hydro, and other sources.
However, the pace of renewable energy projects was not satisfactory. In October 2020, it decided to change that; it formally established its first dedicated green arm, NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd. Since then, its operational renewables capacity has tripled to more than 3 gigawatts (GW).
In addition, it is taking multiple steps to transition toward making power generation green.
In December 2022, NTPC entered into an agreement with GE Power India to reduce carbon emissions from its coal-fired units. It is also working with a UK-based company on carbon capture initiatives.
In January 2023, the company also plunged into green hydrogen. NTPC teamed up with natural gas distribution company Gujarat Gas Ltd to commission India’s first green hydrogen blending project. And in March 2023, NTPC entered into a partnership with the Indian Army to set up green-hydrogen projects to power the Army’s off-grid facilities.
Over the last few months, the company commissioned several large-scale renewable energy power projects, including floating solar power plants. Overall, NTPC has set a target to achieve a renewable energy capacity of 60 GW by 2032, accounting for 45% of its total installed capacity. The company’s focus on renewable energy aligns with the Indian government’s vision to achieve a 500 GW renewable energy capacity target by 2030.
As of March 2023, NTPC’s total installed capacity is more than 71 GW which is approximately 24 percent share of India’s full capacity. This public sector undertaking is widely recognized as a leading player in the power sector. However, coal burning still rules; the 25 coal-based power stations contribute over 70 percent of its power generation capacity.
Therefore, given the energy requirement for India’s development, NTPC has to play a crucial role in meeting the country’s needs and, at the same time, ensuring it is not black but green.