HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS DEVELOPMENT: CHALLENGES AND RESPONSE â€“*
RV SHAHI, SECRETARY
MINISTRY OF POWER, GOVT. OF INDIA
Enhancing the level of energy consumption, particularly in less developed and developing countries, is a global challenge. 20% of world population living in industrialised countries consume 60% of energy and remaining 80% of population have to manage within 40% of total energy. This has obviously resulted in wide disparities between the standard of living and quality of life of high energy consuming countries on the one hand and those who do not have the opportunities of adequate access to energy on the other. It is precisely for this reason that development of different sources of energy and increase in its consumption has become a priority agenda of all the developing countries.
2. Various countries have adopted their own strategies to provide energy to their people. In the context of electric power, as an important form of energy, the thermal and hydroelectric power on a global basis, have occupied the largest proportion. Within the thermal group, coal based power stations occupy dominant position. However, this varies from country to country. The Gas based combined cycle power stations in number of countries occupy a significant proportion. Similarly, nuclear power stations have also increased and have been adding large amount of capacity to the thermal group. During last 30 years, Hydroelectric power generation has, as a matter of fact, reduced from 21% in 1973 to less than 17% in 2000. During the same period, coal based generation marginally increased from 38% to 39%, gas increased substantially from 12% to 17.4% and nuclear witnessed a very steep rise from 3.3% to 16.9%. Obviously concerted efforts are required to develop Hydroelectric capacities
*PAPER FOR VALEDICTORY SESSION IN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LARGE DAMS (ICOLD) AT MONTREAL, 17-20, JUNE, 2003
3. Low Exploitation of Hydro Potential
Inspite of hydroelectric power requiring a clean energy generation process, exploitation of Hydroelectric potential in various countries has been rather on a lower side. While the countries like Canada & Norway have exploited their hydro potentials to the extent of 48% and 58% respectively, Brazil has developed it to the extent of 31%, China and India both only to the extent of 18%.
COUNTRY POTENTIAL INSTALLED PERCENTAGE
Norway 47,000 27,360 58
Canada 160,000 65,378 48
Brazil 170,000 52,427 31
China 310,000 56,000 18
India 150,000 27,000 18
4. Power Shortage in India
In India, though over 100,000 MW of capacity has been added in last 50 years, there is a huge gap between the demand and supply of power. While in the last few years it has marginally reduced, the peaking shortage continues to be over 12% to 13% and the average energy shortage at about 8.8%. Indian power system has an installed capacity of 108,207 MW in May 2003, with hydroelectric accounting for 25%.
Installed Capacity in MW (05/2003)
Sector Hydro Thermal Wind Nuclear Total
State 23,085 40,141 65 0 63,291
Private 876 9,419 1805 0 12,100
Central 3049 27,047 0 2720 32,816
Total 27,010 76,607 1,870 2720 1,08,207
5. Declining proportion of Hydro Capacity
In the last 30 years, the proportion of hydroelectric capacity in the Indian power system has considerably reduced. It has dropped from about 46% in 1970 to 40% in 1980, 29% in 1990 and now 25% in 2003. In spite of the Hydroelectric potential, which is now estimated to be of the order of 150,000 MW, the exploitation has been of the order of 27,000 MW. Some of the important reasons for decline in the Hydroelectric proportion in the total capacity over the last 30 years are as follows:
a) Indian power supply industry has always experienced the situation of shortages both in energy and peaking requirements. To tide over the shortage in shortest possible time, more dependence was placed on sources of power generation with shorter gestation period. Obviously this short-term approach rather than a long-term perspective led to this problem.
b) With abundant coal reserves in the country, large capacity additions through coal based pithead power stations during the eighties and nineties increased the thermal proportion.
c) Emergence of gas based combined cycle power stations based on indigenous natural gas with gestation period of 2-2 Â½ years also received priority in response to the anxiety to create capacity addition in shortest possible time.
d) Nuclear power stations have also emerged as reliable modes of thermal generation.
e) In spite of best efforts at the stage of planning and formulating projects in the hydro segment, a number of large projects got into long gestation period of construction on account of various reasons, namely environmental issues, rehabilitation & resettlement (R&R) problems, gap between investigations and field realities, etc. We do have a number of successful stories on the hydroelectric projects but we also have large projects which have taken several years to get completed.
6. Thrust on Hydro Power
In the recent years, the Govt. of India has committed quantum jump, in the financial allocation and also by way of other supports so that Hydroelectric projects not only get right priorities but also contribute in an increased way to the future capacity addition programmes of the country. Accordingly, in the 10th Five-Year Plan (year 2002-2007), the target for hydroelectric capacity has been placed 14,393 MW, which is more than the total installed capacity (13,666 MW) created in the last 20 years. The thrust on hydroelectric development is based on the following considerations:
a) Hydroelectric involves a clean process of power generation. Once the projects are constructed, there is no pollution ramification unlike many other power generation technologies and processes.
b) Since it does not suffer from the limitation of inflation on account of fuel consumption, in the long run, it is the most cost-effective option for power supply. In Indian context, where more than 45% of Indian population has yet to have access to electricity at an affordable price, this is an important consideration.
c) Indian power supply system has a peculiar limitation of huge variation between peak and off peak requirements. Management of peak load in an effective manner could be conveniently handled through availability of hydroelectric support. The system at present does suffer from large frequency variations. Better hydro support could address this problem better.
d) Locations of Hydroelectric projects in India are also in areas which need substantial support for their economic development. These areas are North-east, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh & Jammu & Kashmir where more than 80% of potential exists. Developing projects in these areas will spur economic activities and will lead to overall economic development.
e) In an integrated Hydroelectric project â€“ there are many such projects â€“ the schemes involve not only supply of electricity but also provision of drinking water and irrigation. These are important issues in many parts of India. Hydroelectric projects, in many cases, do have the ability to mitigate these problems.
f) Flood control is also an issue and quite often a challenge. Integrated hydroelectric projects could adequately address this concern.
7. Govt. of India Initiative on Hydro Power Development:
The main features of the Government of India policy on hydro power development are as follows:
â€¢ Additional budgetary financial support for ongoing and new hydro projects under Central Public Sector Undertakings.
â€¢ Basin-wise development of hydro potential â€“ comprehensive Ranking studies for 399 schemes.
â€¢ Advance action for capacity addition â€“ 10 year ahead of execution
â€¢ Emphasis on quality of survey & investigations
â€¢ Resolution of inter-state issues on sharing of water and power.
â€¢ Renovation, Modernization & Uprating of existing hydro stations
â€¢ Promoting small and mini hydel projects â€“ 25 MW and below now fall into category of â€œnon conventionalâ€