Skip to main content

Power surplus gas, coal plants, state boards' erratic cuts responsible for drop in hydro power supply: Modi aide

By Our Representative
Top technocrat Babubhai Navalawala, currently heading a Government of India panel on inter-linking of rivers, has said that the real reason behind a huge drop in India's hydro power generation is the problem of surplus generating capacity in thermal and gas-based power projects.
Sharply reacting to a Counterview story (click HERE), which quotes a report by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) to say that India's hydro power generation has dropped sharply because of climate change, Navalawala, who has been Gujarat chief minister's water resources adviser ever since the Modi days, has said:
"I have read with keen interest as well as deep concern Counterview post dated June 13, 'Impact of climate change: India's hydro power generation drops by 20%, by 45% in western region: SANDRP'.
"I feel that the article does not present a full picture and awards the entire lack of generation to the non-availability of water. The real problem is the surplus of generating capacity in thermal and gas based power projects.
Babubhai Navalawala
"Coupled with this, the state electricity boards are artificially lowering the peak to avoid buying the peaking power ( they create 6-12 hour blackouts and do not buy power). since hydro power is primarily utilized for peaking operations, there have been complaints from the hydro power producers about the lack of demand.
"You may like to cross-check the above facts."
***
Disagreeing with Navalawala, Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP, on whose report the Counterview story is based, has sent in the following reaction:
India’s power scenario is indeed complex and is not amenable to simplistic conclusions. There are so many factors at play here, and not all factors are quantifiable or quantified. All analysis has to keep these limitations in mind.
At the same time, lack of sufficient information cannot be used to escape some conclusions. In this context, Babubhai Navalawala’s response dated June 16, 2016 to the article published by Counterview on June 13, 2016i tries to escape certain conclusions.
However, let us begin with areas of agreement. I largely agree with Navalawala when he says: “The real problem is the surplus of generating capacity in thermal and gas based power projects. Coupled with this, the state electricity boards are artificially lowering the peak to avoid buying the peaking power (they create 6-12 hour blackouts and do not buy power).” However, this does not contra-indicate anything I have written in the article.
Himanshu Thakkar
His next sentence, though. is seriously problematic: “Hydro power is primarily utilized for peaking operations, there have been complaints from the hydro power producers about the lack of demand.”
Before we go into this statement, let us understand what is peaking power. The demand for electricity is not constant in our grid. In any given day, demand generally goes up during morning (6-10) and evening (7-11) hours, the demand is generally low during rest of the hours.
Since hydro power projects can theoretically started and shut down at short notice of a few minutes, they are used to satisfied such extra power demands during peak hours. Thermal and nuclear power stations cannot do this since it is not possible to start and shut down such projects at such short notice.
Gas-based thermal power projects can perform peaking operation, but there are practical difficulties since there is insufficient availability of gas. Renewables like solar and wind operate when there is sunlight and wind respectively, so they too cannot satisfy peaking power demands.
Now let us take the first half of this statement of Navalawala.
Is it true that hydro power is primarily utilised for peaking operations? NO
Is there any evidence to that effect? NO.
Is there any agency that is monitoring as to how much of the hydro power generation is during peaking hours? NONE. CEA is not doing it, Ministry of Power is not doing it. CERC or SERCs are monitoring project level generation, but there is no estimation from them as to how much of the power generation from hydropower projects is during peak hours. State governments or their power departments are not reporting these figures, nor are the specific developers.
So do we know how much of hydro power generation is during peaking hours? NO.
And, do we know cases when hydro power projects are NOT operating as peaking power? Yes, many. To just illustrate, even CERC has in the past given specific instances when Hydro projects like the 1500 MW Nathpa Jakhri and 1000 MW Tehri were operating base load stations when they could have operated as peaking stations. All run of the river hydro power projects operate as base load stations in monsoon.
Similarly, due to lack of upstream downstream flow management, the water reaches many of the hydropower projects even in non monsoon months at such hours that they cannot operate as peaking stations.
If we need hydro projects for peaking power, are we doing anything to manage our peaking power demand? NOTHING.
In that case, is there any justification for putting more hydro in the name of peaking power demands? None, it seems to be, but you be the judge!
In the second half of the statement quoted above, Navalawala says: “There have been complaints from the hydro power producers about the lack of demand.” This could be the case, but there is nothing in public domain to substantiate this.
Maybe Navalawala would like to provide details. In any case, I doubt there is any case of hydro power project that had to stop generation for lack of demand. It will be a news if that is indeed the case, hope Navalawala will provide such details.
That leaves us with his primary concern about the Counterview article: “The article does not present a full picture and awards the entire lack of generation to the non-availability of water.”
From all available information, the reduction in electricity generation from hydropower projects during current drought is entirely due to lack of water and there is no information that will suggest any other possibility. Navalawala has not provided any information to the contrary, we would welcome him to provide it if he has it.

Comments

TRENDING

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Were JVCs, rock cutters 'reinforcing' Statue of Unity base on dry Narmada riverbed?

By Kevin Antao* 
Having seen photographs and write-ups on the world’s tallest Statue of Unity, constructed and assembled off Narmada dam in South Gujarat, I always wanted to visit the site and see for myself the great marvel that it was being made out to be.

Sardar Patel's 'notable' achievement on J&K: Insertion of Article 370 in Constitution

By Shamsul Islam*
One of the "truths" manufactured in the boudhik shibirs (ideological training camps) of the RSS is that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who forced Article 370 on India while Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India, was opposed to it. The RSS leaders both inside the Modi government and outside ceaselessly keep on blaming Jawaharlal Nehru as the sole architect of Article 370, giving Kashmir special status.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt promotes low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”