Hy­dro-ther­mal mix

Electrical Monitor - - LEAD STORY -

For var­i­ous rea­sons, it is es­ti­mated that hy­dropower should ide­ally ac­count for 40 per cent of the coun­try’s in­stalled power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity. How­ever, in In­dia, the share of hy­dropower has seen a de­clin­ing trend thanks to in­creas­ing fo­cus on ther­mal power plants. Though In­dia is stress­ing on other re­new­able forms of en­ergy—mainly wind and so­lar, which are also clean forms of en­ergy—there is a per­cep­ti­ble drop in the share of hy­dropower. Since hy­dropower plants can be started and shut down almost in­stantly, they are ideal to meet peak loads. In the In­dian con­text, they also help in bal­anc­ing re­gional loads. For ex­am­ple, in the mon­soons, hy­dropower gen­er­a­tion is at its max­i­mum and there is also heavy load from the agri­cul­tural sec­tor. Thus, hy­dropower cre­ates much needed bal­anc­ing of the peak load. Se­condly, hy­dropower does not use any fos­sil fuel, mit­i­gat­ing the county’s car­bon foot­print.

Till around 1980, hy­dropower had a healthy share of around 40 per cent in the to­tal in­stalled power ca­pac­ity. From thereon, there has been a con­sis­tent de­cline. By 1997-98, the share of hy­dropower had dropped to 24.8 per cent. It hov­ered in the band of 24-27 per cent till 2006-07, after which there has been a per­cep­ti­ble year-on-year drop. From its re­cent peak of 27.82 per cent in 2006-07, the share of hy­dropower dropped to an appalling 18.98 per cent by 2013-14.

It may be men­tioned here that the to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity here does not take into ac­count re­new­able forms of en­ergy (so­lar, wind, small hy­dropower, etc) that are out of the purview of the min­istry of power. If ac­counted for, the share of hy­dropower will be even lower—at least from a math­e­mat­i­cal stand­point. How­ever, re­new­able en­ergy sources—in terms of their zero car­bon foot­print—are com­pa­ra­ble to hy­dropower plants.

It is also worth not­ing that coal-fired power plants of re­cent years use su­per­crit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy with large unit sizes like 660-mw, 800-mw, etc. Till the late 1990s, the av­er­age unit size of a coal-fired power plant was 250 mw. Hence, the av­er­age size of a mod­ern ther­mal power plant has risen sharply. In­dia is also pur­su­ing ul­tra mega power plants with a view to achieve greater economies of scale. All this is lead­ing to ther­mal power hav­ing a greater share in the coun­try’s to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity.

Year 1956 1961 1966 1974 1890 1985 1990 1997 2000 2005 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

per cent 34.86 41.49 45.68 41.80 40.02 33.96 28.77 24.84 24.63 27.00 25.62 24.21 22.26 20.17 18.98 Go­ing by the progress of hy­dropower schemes un­der con­struc­tion, it is ex­pected that a very large quantum of hy­dropower ca­pac­ity will come on stream dur­ing 2015-16 and 2016-17, the con­clud­ing years of the XII Plan pe­riod.

In 2015-16, In­dia is hope­ful of adding 4,176 mw of new hy­dropower ca­pac­ity that would be the high­est an­nual ad­di­tion ever. This would be fol­lowed by an even more im­pres­sive 4,320 mw sched­uled to come up in 2016-17. It is also worth ob­serv­ing that in the XII Plan pe­riod, the pri­vate sec­tor is ex­pected to con­trib­ute a sig­nif­i­cant 30 per cent to the

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