Thursday | 05 February, 2009 | 9:10 am

A vital project

By Andy Barks

February 2009 - The city of Mundra, located in the Gujarat state on India's West coast, is a modest town of about 60,000 that's rapidly being transformed by the Mundra Port, which is the largest private port in the country. Its presence has drastically altered the economic climate of a region facing a serious energy crisis.

Before the port's resurgence, the idea of developing a massive power plant in Mundra would have been laughable. Yet that's exactly what Coastal Gujarat Ltd., Mundra, India, is planning with the Tata Mundra Project, a 4,000-megawatt plant designed to be the most energy-efficient, coal-based thermal power plant in India. Its impact is expected to be far-reaching, with domestic firms competing for an opportunity to contribute alongside the likes of Coastal Gujarat and its parent company, Tata Steel Ltd., Mumbai, India.

An alternative approach
The Tata Mundra Project will be India's first to use supercritical technology, which is employed only in areas where the water is very poor. In this case, it's poor enough that it can't be easily defined as a liquid or gas.

The theory is that through the use of supercritical technology, India can sustain its current level of growth, despite the dire situation in its western region. For that to happen, the country needs to add about 160,000 megawatts of generation capacity over the next decade so that energy efficiency increases and emissions are reduced.

Tata Mundra will serve as the beginning of that long-term solution, and the efforts required will be vast. Based on the premise that supercritical technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 9 percent, Tata Mundra will avoid burning 1.7 million tons of coal annually, which translates to the elimination of 3.6 million tons of carbon emissions.

No detail too small
For the numbers to be realized, every detail of the plant's skeleton must be efficient. That includes the tubing, which an American company will supply.

For RathGibson Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill., it's not only an opportunity to expand its network and enhance the company name but also to take part in something broader. With the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra--all of which are suffering from severe electricity shortages--among the provided areas, the task at hand is considerable.

RathGibson, which was chosen by the Indian engineering firm Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Mumbai, will supply titanium-welded tubing. Larsen & Toubro will provide condensers. In each company's case, experience with both biotechnological and general commercial applications played a large role in receiving the contract.

"RathGibson was awarded the project based upon our high-quality products, dedication to customer service and cost-effectiveness," said Alfredo D'Souza, RathGibson's director of business development for the Middle East and India.

"Our commitment to the region has resulted in increased education and technical support for our channel partners and end users. We're excited to witness the exponential expansion in the area and are proud to contribute to that development."

And with the Tata Mundra Project lined up as the metaphorical guinea pig in India's nationwide power-production overhaul, every aspect of its success will be noticed. MM

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