“Planned capacity addition shall be realised”

July 30, 2015 6:12 am0 commentsViews: 119

L(27_2015_Planned-capacity)1Utpal Moral, Director Technical – NEEPCO, expresses optimism regarding the future of large hydro in India, in an interview with Monica Chaturvedi Charna.

What is the current status of NEEPCO’s 240 MW hydro project proposed along the Assam-Meghalaya border, which was facing local opposition?
The Killing hydro electric project is located in the Assam-Meghalaya border and is presently under investigation by NEEPCO. We have prepared the pre-feasibility report for the project and revised the parameters resulting in shifting of the dam site to downstream. Based on the revised pre-feasibility report, prior environmental clearance for comprehensive environmental studies has been obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). Survey and investigation activities for preparation of a detailed project report are also in progress. Although there is opposition to the project from the local populace, awareness on the impact of the project and benefi ts of revised parameters are continuously shared with the local people for their understanding. The matter has also been taken up with the government of Assam and is expected to be resolved soon.

Many Indian states have huge hydro potential, especially Arunachal Pradesh in the north eastern region. The basin wise cumulative impact assessment study of various river basins is being carried out by the MoEFCC who have completed the study in Siang, Subansiri and Bichom basins and have given their recommendations for each basin. These recommendations shall be considered in the detailed project reports. With such holistic approach for individual basin studies, it is felt that the growth of the hydro sector shall not be affected and planned capacity addition shall be realised.

Although most Indian states have huge hydro reserves that can be harnessed for generating peak power demand, the environmental concerns act as a major deterrent. In view of this, by when do you see the sector recovering?
Many Indian states have huge hydro potential, especially Arunachal Pradesh in the north eastern region. However, peaking generation of hydro projects is now seen to be objected by the general public. It may be pertinent to say that the basin wise cumulative impact assessment study of various river basins is being carried out by the MoEFCC who have completed the study in Siang, Subansiri and Bichom basins and have given their recommendations for each basin. These recommendations shall be considered in the detailed project reports. With such holistic approach for individual basin studies, it is felt that the growth of the hydro sector shall not be affected and planned capacity addition shall be realised.

Considering that majority of the existing dams have become inefficient, does renovation, modernisation and uprating (RM&U) appear to be more commercially viable in the Indian context? What about NEEPCO’s own projects?
Routine checks and analysis of instrumentation and other data has not revealed any deterioration/ ineffi ciency of the existing dams of NEEPCO. Further, in order to make the dams more effective, the crest level of the ongoing construction dams are kept at a lower level. However, considering the present stipulations for construction of new projects, it is felt that RM&U shall be a commercially viable option for certain projects.

NEEPCO has not undertaken renovation, modernisation and uprating of the existing projects. However, under proposed joint venture mode, feasibility study for the RM&U works of 15 MW Gumti small hydro project in Tripura is in progress.

Are small hydro projects a solution to the problems related to large hydro projects – R&R issues, land acquisition, environment concerns?
Small hydro projects are generally meant for supplying power to the local areas. These are isolated and shall have stand alone grid. Most of these projects are remotely located without any developed infrastructure. The establishment and infrastructural costs for both small and large hydro projects does not vary much. In fact, the per megawatt cost of large hydro projects turns out to be more economical. The transmission cost/wheeling charge for small hydro projects located in remote areas is generally uneconomical. Replacement of large hydro projects by small hydro projects may involve a huge cost and also a series of diversion structures along the rivers and hence, may not be an ideal solution. Optimal capacity of hydro projects are required to be planned considering R&R, land acquisition and environmental concerns including the results of cumulative basin studies.

L(27_2015_Planned-capacity)2Would you share any new developments in the balance of plant (BoP) space?
Balance of plant covers around 40-45 per cent of any thermal power project and plays a major role in the efficiency of the plant. There is increasing demand for enhancement of efficiencies of balance of plant to increase the overall efficiency of the thermal plants. The major issue on BoP equipment is limited number of vendors in the field. Also, the capacity expansion by current players is not very significant to meet the growing demand. Recent trends in supercritical plant entail changes in BoP equipment requirement and the vendors have to meet such requirements. NEEPCO has recently converted its open cycle gas turbine plant at Agartala to a combined cycle plant wherein, an air cooled condensing system has been installed instead of a conventional wet cooling system, which minimises water requirement.

At NEEPCO, what does corporate social responsibility (CSR) mean?
As a responsible corporate citizen, NEEPCO is committed to sustainable development of the society particularly, communities surrounding NEEPCO’s operating stations, projects under execution and other establishments with due consultation and participation of stakeholders according to their specific needs. The focus of company’s CSR policy remains steadfast on the issue of community development, social capital development and human development, especially in the field of education, health, capacity building, skill development, etc. NEEPCO’s CSR initiatives are committed to improving the quality of life of the communities that it serves.

The establishment and infrastructural costs for both small and large hydro projects does not vary much. In fact, the per MW cost of large hydro projects turns out to be more economical. The transmission cost/wheeling charge for small hydro projects located in remote areas is generally uneconomical. Replacement of large hydro projects by small hydro projects may involve a huge cost and also a series of diversion structures along the rivers and hence, may not be an ideal solution.

How successful has ‘Operation Smile’ been in the NE region? Any plans of taking it to other regions where the company has operations?
As part of NEEPCO’s initiative to make people smile, the company in association with Operation Smile, has successfully treated 120 patients with cleft lip. Going ahead, this project, aimed at the marginalised and under privileged communities, will be taken to other parts of the north eastern region.

Kindly share with us any recent CSR initiative that NEEPCO is strongly working on.
NEEPCO is working on numerous fronts like education, health, social capital, energy conservation, entrepreneurship development programme, etc. Under Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan, we are constructing school toilets across north east. NEEPCO has also taken up construction of class rooms and supply of educational infrastructure/teaching aids like furniture, electrical items and computers to various schools. Camps for awareness and screening programmes for breast and oral cancer in association with Roko Cancer at Guwahati, cleft lip surgery of 120 patients, donation of ambulance to hospitals and dispensaries are some of the notable contributions in the health sector. Under social capital, setting up of community hall at Maucher village, Mizoram, football ground at Kimi ringwell and water harvesting at Kopili, Umrongsoo, Assam are some of the recent initiatives under CSR. We have also taken up number of schemes under energy conservation. Recently, we have taken up a 20 KW solar project for street lighting in Agartala, Tripura. Under entrepreneurship development programme, various schemes like piggery and poultry farming for 30 youths in Wokha district of Nagaland, food processing in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya for 22 youths, tailoring and stiching programme for women in Tripura and Mizoram, piggery farming for disabled people in Meghalaya, etc. are significant steps taken.

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