India has urged power companies to place orders for equipment worth $33bn in 2024 to accelerate the expansion of the country’s coal-fired power capacity, Reuters has reported.

According to government officials, the initiative comes as the country faces challenges in meeting its burgeoning electricity demand.

The directive is set to result in a record number of tenders for equipment by major power firms, including the state-run NTPC and SJVN, as well as private entities such as Adani Power and Essar Power.

The move is anticipated to contribute an additional 31GW by 2029.

The government usually permits companies to determine the timing of tendering. But following the formation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new cabinet, Power Minister Manohar Lal has emphasised the immediate need to enhance coal power capacity.

The scale of the orders marks a significant uptick from the previous average 2 to 3GW capacity of equipment ordered annually. 2023 saw a spike to 10GW.

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India’s push for new coal-fired plants is driven by the need to satisfy high power demand at times when solar power is not available.

In June 2024, the country faced its most severe power shortage in 14 years, leading to postponed maintenance and emergency measures to ensure nighttime electricity supply.

Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), which secured all 2023’s power equipment contract auctions, is anticipated to receive the majority of the new contracts.

Equipment manager Larsen & Toubro did not participate in most of the 2023 bids.

Reuters’ requests for comment from Adani, BHEL, L&T, NTPC, the Power Ministry and SJVN were not immediately answered.

In June 2024, BHEL received orders worth Rs70bn ($837m) from Adani Power for the construction of two thermal power plants in India.

The state-owned enterprise will be responsible for the manufacture, supply and commissioning of the main plant equipment for both projects.

The government of India recently sanctioned new interstate transmission system schemes worth Rs135.95bn ($1.63bn) to facilitate the transfer of 9GW of renewable energy from the states of Rajasthan and Karnataka.

The initiatives are part of India’s goal to achieve 500GW of renewable energy by 2030, with 200GW already integrated into the grid.