Cold hits Himachal hydro power generation

Shimla : With a power crisis looming large in major cities of India power generation has now been affected in hydro-electric projects of Himachal Pradesh due to the freezing of rivers in the higher hills of the state.Experts say power generation has fallen by 40 per cent and will fall to 80 per cent in full winter .

Himachal Pradesh has some of the largest hydro-electric projects in the region including the country’s largest 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project.Almost the entire supply goes to the northern grid to feed power hungry north India .

“Against the normal generation of 36 million units daily, the generation these days is 16.5 million units,” V.K. Verma, deputy general manager, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd that operates the 1,500 MW Nathpa-Jhakri project in Kinnaur district, said.

He said the dischare in the Satluj river, on which the project is built, has reduced drastically.

The river discharge is around 177 cubic metres per second against 1,300 cubic metres a second in August, Verma said, adding that “in the next few weeks, the generation will be only 20 percent of the total generation”.

Hydroelectric power generation in the state increases in summer, whereas it comes down to just 20 percent of capacity during winter (from December to March).

The state-run Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd has 21 hydropower projects across the state with a combined optimum generation capacity of 8.5 million energy units a day.

Now all the projects are generating 40 to 50 percent power depending upon the altitude the project is located.

T.C. Negi, chief engineer of the state-run 126 MW Larji hydropower project near Kullu town, said the project is generating 2 million units daily against the optimum generation of 3 million units.

“This year the generation during the peak season (from May to August) was bountiful due to good rainfall and less breakdown of (generating) machines. Now when the generation dips, the emphasis is on maintenance of turbines and other civil works,” he said.

Private hydropower major Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corp Ltd’s 1,000 MW Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Project and 300 MW Baspa Hydropower project, all located in Kinnaur district, are functioning at 50 percent.

Kanti Prasad, senior vice-president of Jaypee Group, said the Karcham project is currently generating 8.5 million units against the normal generation capacity of 16 million units.

Likewise, the company’s 300 MW Baspa Hydropower project, located upstream of the Karcham project, is generating 2 to 2.5 million units against 7.2 million units.

Hydropower experts said this time, unseasonal spells of snow from August onwards have frozen the water channels and slowed down the process of melting of glaciers.

“Hills in Kullu, Chamba, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts have been regularly experiencing moderate spells of snow since August,” said meteorological office director Manmohan Singh.

He, however, said snowfall in the higher reaches, August onwards, is a normal phenomenon”.

Himachal Pradesh has abundant water resources with a power generation potential of about 23,560 MW. About 6,673 MW have been tapped till now by the central and state governments, private players and joint venture companies.

Currently, 13 hydropower projects in the state sector, six in central and joint sector and 19 in the private sector with a combined generation capacity of 5,809.1 MW are under execution.


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