Hy­dro plays an im­por­tant role in grid sta­bil­ity, says Neelav Sam­rat De, Asst Gen­eral Man­ager (Mar­ket­ing) - An­dritz In­dia Pvt Ltd as he ex­presses hope that the govt will con­sider in­clud­ing 25-100 MW ca­pac­ity hy­dro-power projects under RE.

Neelav Sam­rat De, Asst. Gen­eral Man­ager (Mar­ket­ing) - An­dritz In­dia Pvt Ltd ex­presses hope that the gov­ern­ment will con­sider in­clud­ing 25-100 MW ca­pac­ity hy­dro-power projects under re­new­able en­ergy, in an in­ter­view with Mon­ica Chaturvedi Charna...

Power Watch India - - CONTENTS -

The gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to in­clude large hy­dro under the am­bit of re­new­able en­ergy. What ca­pac­ity projects would qual­ify for this and when do you see a pol­icy be­ing an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment?

There are about 4300 MW of small hy­dro schemes which are al­ready cov­ered under re­new­able en­ergy. There have been talks at a pol­icy level to in­clude plants of up to 25 MW under the um­brella of MNRE. In ad­di­tion, 6780 MW from small, mini and mi­cro hy­del schemes (<25 MW) have been as­sessed. Cur­rently, there are hy­dro projects of ap­prox­i­mately 7000 MW that may see an in­clu­sion under this band.

We were ex­pect­ing the hy­dro pol­icy to be an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber 2016. How­ever, it didn’t hap­pen. Hope­fully, with re­newed in­ter­est for hy­dro-power, the pol­icy could come into ef­fect in the com­ing months.

What ben­e­fits would hy­dro com­pa­nies en­joy if the pol­icy is fi­nalised? Also, do you ex­pect re­sis­tance from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists?

The hy­dro sec­tor cur­rently is in sham­bles. Just the thought of in­clud­ing 25 MW sized projects under re­new­able en­ergy has cre­ated a stir among hy­dropower stake hold­ers. This is pri­mar­ily be­cause of the gov­ern­ment’s thrust on re­new­ables en­ergy. As we know, so­lar power has a chal­leng­ing tar­get of 100 GW ca­pac­ity ad­di­tion by 2022. This on-go­ing impetus will pos­i­tively af­fect the be­lea­guered hy­dro sec­tor. Re­new­able en­ergy, cur­rently has a lot of in­cen­tivised schemes and ac­tiv­i­ties. The in­clu­sion of hy­dro schemes under this on-go­ing thrust, would push hy­dro projects too. More­over, large-scale hy­dro projects do not see a way ahead due to geo-po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, fund­ing and other is­sues. A ma­jor way to see an impetus would be for hy­dro projects in the 25-100 MW range.

As far as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists are con­cerned, they have al­ways pro­vided re­sis­tance to hy­dro-power de­vel­op­ment as hy­dro projects are site sen­si­tive. De­vel­op­ment of large-sized civil struc­tures like dams, tun­nels and pow­er­houses in green ar­eas do pose a threat to wildlife and lo­cal habi­tats. A large num­ber of hy­dro projects have been af­fected in the past due to re­sis­tance from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists. So, we do not fore­see any change on this front.

Elab­o­rate on the trans­for­ma­tion in In­dia’s en­ergy sec­tor and what is the key ‘game-changer’?

Ca­pac­ity ad­di­tion in ther­mal and re­new­ables has hap­pened in the last 2-3 years. But, these are rollovers or spillages from the pre­vi­ous five year plans. Re­cently, we heard about the gov­ern­ment’s keen­ness to de­velop 10,000 MW of hy­dro pumped stor­age schemes. This is a good step to tackle grid sta­bil­ity at a time when a ma­jor push is be­ing given to the so­lar power seg­ment. Re­new­able grid-con­nected power will need sta­bil­ity, which can be done with in­tro­duc­tion of pumped stor­age plants (PSP). Hy­dro

also plays an im­por­tant role in grid sta­bil­ity as it re­quires lesser time to shut down as com­pared to ther­mal plants.

Smart grids, that are be­ing widely talked about will need a di­verse en­ergy mix to have sta­bil­ity. The sta­bil­is­ing fac­tors will also need to be im­ple­mented and given im­por­tance. In­dia plans to im­port power from Nepal and Bhutan through hy­dro projects, for projects that are al­ready under con­struc­tion. Why would a power sur­plus na­tion need more power? We also hear that the Min­is­ter of Power has asked en­ergy public sec­tor util­i­ties (PSUs) and in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers (IPPs) to ven­ture over­seas as In­dia does not re­quire rapid ca­pac­ity ad­di­tions. Given these facts, I don’t think there is any ma­jor game-changer in ac­tion.

Given the am­bi­tious power ad­di­tion plans, how do you see the op­por­tu­ni­ties for your busi­ness?

On one hand, we say we are power sur­plus and on the other we have am­bi­tious power ad­di­tion plans. It’s a lit­tle con­tra­dic­tory in na­ture which we have to ac­cept. How­ever, on the pos­i­tive side, the gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to add all hy­dro projects up to 25 MW under re­new­ables. If this goes through as an amend­ment, the coun­try could well plan for an am­bi­tious re­new­able ca­pac­ity ad­di­tion of 225 GW by 2022. There is a huge hy­dro po­ten­tial that is yet to be tapped in Ut­taran­chal, Hi­machal Pradesh, J&K and Arunachal Pradesh. Hope­fully, the new hy­dro pol­icy ex­pected in Oc­to­ber 2016, will ad­dress the de­vel­op­ment of such projects in the com­ing 5 year plan. In spite of the cur­rent state of the sec­tor, we are con­fi­dent that the worst is over.

We are also global lead­ers in the air pol­lu­tion con­trol sec­tor of ther­mal plants. The Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, For­est and Cli­mate Change (MOEF and CC) has put a man­date on curb­ing emis­sions from pol­lut­ing plants by 2019. This is a con­cern as en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues are at the fore­front to­day. We are keen to ad­dress this mar­ket which has a busi­ness po­ten­tial of over US $10 billion. An­dritz Hy­dro con­tin­ues to keep In­dia as a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant mar­ket and we are com­mit­ted to con­tinue with our de­liv­er­ance to our es­teemed clients. We will stay as com­mit­ted.

How is your com­pany con­tribut­ing to the trans­for­ma­tion in the power sec­tor?

Our com­pany, a wholly-owned sub­sidiary of An­dritz Hy­dro Aus­tria, has two com­pletely built state-ofthe-art man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties in In­dia. This is truly aligned to the Prime Min­is­ter’s Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive. The com­pany has al­ready ex­e­cuted and is ex­e­cut­ing projects to­talling al­most 21,000 MW in In­dia and neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. How­ever, in spite of hav­ing such lo­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties, we are not able to have to­tal ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion of our fac­to­ries, be­cause there are no new hy­dro projects com­ing up for de­vel­op­ment. While In­dia is con­sid­ered the com­pany’s top pri­or­ity hy­dro mar­ket, we do not see any pos­i­tive yields in the sec­tor.

What are the chal­lenges that you are fac­ing be­ing a sub­sidiary of a for­eign com­pany?

There are nu­mer­ous joint ven­ture hy­dro projects to­talling over 4,000-5,000 MW which the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia and the Royal Gov­ern­ment of Bhutan have de­cided to jointly de­velop. Global com­pa­nies such as ours how­ever do not meet the qual­i­fy­ing cri­te­ria to bid in such projects sim­ply be­cause the fo­cus is to safe­guard the in­ter­est of a par­tic­u­lar state-owned util­ity. This in it­self de­feats the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive. While we are keen to con­tinue with our con­tri­bu­tion to the growth of the coun­try’s trans­form­ing power sec­tor, we find our­selves in a very pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tion. We hope to see bet­ter days ahead.

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