Power Cuts may Bring in Sum­mer of Dis­con­tent

While se­vere heat­wave will boost de­mand, acute wa­ter short­age to take the wind out of power sta­tions

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Sarita C Singh & Mad­hvi Sally

New Delhi: Elec­tric­ity sup­ply across In­dia will be vul­ner­a­ble to dis­rup­tions this sum­mer as the of­fi­cial forecast of se­vere heat­wave will boost de­mand sig­nif­i­cantly, while power sta­tions face acute wa­ter short­age this year be­cause of the alarm­ing dip in wa­ter lev­els that has forced some plants to shut down.

Wa­ter short­age is not only hurt­ing coal-based and hy­dropower plants but will also de­crease the ef­fi­ciency of so­lar and wind plants, adding to the pres­sure on the grid. Coal-based power plants need wa­ter for cool­ing and ash dis­posal. Tem­per­a­tures have al­ready been more than 5 de­grees above nor­mal in re­cent weeks, and the trend is likely to con­tinue in the peak sum- mer months, ac­cord­ing to the firstever tem­per­a­ture forecast is­sued last week by the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment. This has al­ready boosted de­mand, which is ex­pected to soar to record lev­els as the sum­mer in­ten­si­fies, in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives and an­a­lysts said. PwC leader Kameswara Rao said gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity or distri­bu­tion com­pa­nies’ abil­ity to pay may not mat­ter much this sum­mer as there is sur­plus gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity avail­able at low prices.

“In­stead, wa­ter avail­abil­ity and grid re­li­a­bil­ity hold the key,” he said.

Dou­ble Whammy

April av­er­age max tem­per­a­ture to rise 4-6°C in north, north­west and cen­tral In­dia

soar 40°C in plains and 30°C in hills

af­ter 2 con­sec­u­tive mon­soon fail­ures

West Ben­gal among coal plants shut down due to wa­ter short­age

nor­mal raises power de­mand in Delhi by 300-350 mw

Temps have al­ready been more than five de­grees above nor­mal in re­cent weeks

91 ma­jor dams plunged to 25%, well short of 10-year av­er­age

Hy­dro reser­voirs held 31% less wa­ter than last year

“Wa­ter short­age can stall op­er­a­tions of coal-based power plants, and a de­ci­sion to shut down older, smaller unit-sized plants that overuse wa­ter may be­come nec­es­sary. State gen­er­a­tion com­pa­nies are at most risk and have to un­der­take wa­ter au­dits and in­vest in con­ser­va­tion,” he said. Feed­back In­fra Chair­man Vi­nayak Chat­ter­jee said hot­ter than usual sum­mer will af­fect wa­ter avail­abil­ity, power gen­er­a­tion from coal and hy­dropower plants and spur trans­mis­sion and distri­bu­tion out­ages.

Wa­ter short­age has al­ready led to clo­sure of some power plants in Kar­nataka, Mad­hya Pradesh, Bi­har and West Ben­gal, in­clud­ing NTPC’s Farakka unit. Rao said re­new­able en­ergy com­pa­nies are af­fected too. Over four-fifth of large hy­dro reser­voirs hold lower wa­ter lev­els cur­rently than pre­vi­ous year. Power gen­er­a­tion from hy­dro­elec­tric plants was about 15% less in 2015-16 than the pre­vi­ous year. High am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture im­pairs so­lar gen­er­a­tion, and wind farms have al­ready suf­fered the im­pact of El Nino ef­fect. Steep de­mand from air­con­di­tion­ing and wa­ter pump­ing in ur­ban ar­eas could over­load the grid caus­ing out­ages, Rao added.

Wa­ter situation in parts of the coun­try has wors­ened af­ter an ex­tended pe­riod of deficit rain­fall, in­clud­ing two con­sec­u­tive mon­soon failu- res. Wa­ter lev­els in the coun­try’s 91 ma­jor dams have plunged to 25% of their ca­pac­ity and well short of the 10year av­er­age, pos­si­bly im­pair­ing elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion, es­pe­cially in the south­ern and west­ern states.

“The rise in tem­per­a­ture in April will re­sult in higher de­mand for power,” said Sonu Agrawal, manag­ing di­rec­tor, Weather Risk Man­age­ment Ser­vices. Agrawal said power de­mand this month may see a 3-5% year-on-year rise in north, north west and cen­tral In­dian cities like Delhi, Jaipur, In­dore and Ahmed­abad. Agrawal added that av­er­age max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture for April showed a rise of about 4-6 de­gree Cel­sius in north, north west and cen­tral parts of the coun­try. Me­te­o­rol­o­gist and power distri­bu­tion com­pa­nies say a vari­a­tion of 1 de­gree Cel­sius tem­per­a­ture from nor­mal can lead to in­crease in de­mand of power by 300-350 mw in Delhi alone to beat the heat. This will ben­e­fit idle power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity in the coun­try. BSES Ra­jd­hani Power vi­cepres­i­dent Satin­der Singh Sodhi said day de­mand in peak hours in Delhi touched 3,700 mw on Satur­day, com­pared to nor­mal de­mand of 3,300-3,400 mw.

Over four-fifth of large hy­dro reser­voirs hold lower wa­ter lev­els cur­rently than pre­vi­ous year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.