A total 200 potential sites have been identified for setting up as many large thermal power plants of total 428.9 GW capacity, more than the existing installed capacity of 346.61 GW, according to a study by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
The authority conducted the study for identifying large pithead and coastal sites based on satellite mapping using remote sensing technology.
An official said a total of 200 potential sites with likely gross installed capacity of 4,28,905 MW have been identified even as the country pushes ahead with green power sources.
The official explained that thermal power stations need to be set up in future because these serve as the base load and are required for grid stabilisation in view of the government's ambitious target of having 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
The demand is going to increase in future as the government under the Rs 16,320 crore scheme has set a target of electrifying all households in the country by March 2019.
The government has also promised 24x7 electricity to all from April 1, 2019.
The official said in view of these targets India needs to increase the installed generation capacity which would include fossil fuels based as well as renewable energy because clean sources like wind and solar do not generate electricity round the clock.
Besides, the official pointed out that thermal power is cheaper than other sources like hydro and nuclear which also involve a lot of risk and rehabilitation of people in catchment areas.
At present, 37 hydropower projects above 25 MW, aggregating to 12,178.5 MW, are at various stages of construction in the country. Of these, 16 projects aggregating to 5,950 MW are stalled due to various reasons.
The official said that coal-based thermal power plant is still a viable proposition and would continue in the energy mix of the country in spite of the addition of other clean and renewable energy sources like solar, wind and gas.
State-run power giant NTPC, which is mainly engaged in coal-based thermal power generation had an average tariff of Rs 3.42 per unit during April-September this fiscal that is much less than hydropower tariffs.