Govt calls for reviving defunct hydro projects to meet summer demand

New Delhi: The government has asked hydro- power producers to revive non-operational units in a bid to avert a power crisis in the summer months of April and May.

Recently, the power ministry asked NHPC and Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd (HPSEBL) to operationalize unit 1 of Kishenganga project and unit 2 of Sainj project, respectively, by 31 March, said two people aware of developments.

“The availability of non-operational generation units is required as April is expected to be a crunch demand month,” said one of the persons mentioned above.

Unit number 1 of Kishenganga hydroelectric project has been under forced outage since 23 November 2022 and unit 2 of the Sainj Hydroelectric Project has been under planned or forced outage since 24 November 2022. The Kishenganga project is on the Kishenganga river, a tributary of the Jhelum in Bandipora district of Jammu & Kashmir. The capacity of the Kishenganga and Sainj project is 330MW and 100MW, respectively.

Queries sent to the Union power ministry, NHPC and HPSEBL remained unanswered till press time.

The move comes follows a power crisis in April-May last year, marked by low availability of domestic coal and high international coal prices.

Power demand across the country is expected to reach 229GW next month with a daily energy requirement of 144 billion units.

The ministry has also taken steps to ensure coal supplies during the period including invoking section 11 of the Electricity Act directing all imported coal-based power plants to run at full capacity from 16 March.

On 9 March, the ministry said it has a multi-pronged strategy to ensure adequate availability of power during the summer.

The ministry has directed power generators not to shut down generating units in April and the first two weeks of May.

Further, the ministry has directed power utilities to undertake maintenance of coal-based power plants well in advance so that no further maintenance is required during the crunch period.

The government has also decided to use gas-based power to meet peak demand. NTPC will run its 5,000MW gas-based power stations during the period. Another 4,000MW of gas-based power capacity will be added by other entities for the summer months.

Additional capacity of 2,920MW will be available through new coal-based plants which will be commissioned by the end of March.

In addition, after direction from the ministry, two units at Barauni (2X110MW) will be made available during the crunch period.

The government’s focus on hydro power plants also comes on the back of its ambitious target to achieve 500GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030.

India has a total installed hydro power capacity of 46.85GW which is 11.4% of the total installed capacity.

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