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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).