Hydro power output dips in HP as water turns to ice

Tough to run generators, production falls by 80 pc, say officials

Extreme cold weather conditions affect generation of hydropower in Himachal Pradesh every winter.

The situation is no different this year, in fact it is worse, say power department officials. Sub-zero temperature in the higher reaches of the state has frozen all water bodies, making it impossible to run hydropower generators.

Most rivers are frozen too, say officials. They say the quantum of hydropower generation starts declining in October.

In December when the temperature drops, production falls by at least 80 per cent. This year, it has fallen to over 80 per cent.

“Against the optimum generation of 36 million units daily, the lowest was 7.5 million units in January last year. But this year, we are generating only 6.5 million units per day,” said V K Verma, deputy general manager of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL).

SJVNL operates the 1,500-MW Nathpa-Jhakri project in Kinnaur.
Verma said the decline in production is due to heavy snowfall in the catchment of Satluj river, on which the project is located.

The river discharges water at the rate of 68 cubic metres per second as against 1,500 cubic metres during monsoon, Verma said.

The state-run Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd has 21 hydropower projects across the state, with a combined optimum generation capacity of 11 million energy units a day. Officials said all the projects are generating less than 20 per cent power.

Joginder Singh, power controller with the state electricity board, said production has fallen drastically as water is frozen at most power generating sites.

The 126-MW Larji hydropower project near Kullu is generating 0.65 million units daily against the optimum generation of 3 million units, said R S Thakur, chief engineer of the project.

“The decline in power generation is normal. But this year it is unusual because power generation has never been so low in the past,” he said.

Even private hydropower firm Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corp Ltd’s 1,000-MW Karcham Wangtoo project and 300-MW Baspa Hydropower project in Kinnaur are functioning much below their capacity.

Jaypee Group senior vice-president Kanti Prasad said the Karcham project is currently generating 3 million to 3.5 million units against the optimum generation capacity of 17 million units. The 300-MW Baspa project, located upstream of the Karcham project, is generating 1 million units against 7.2 million units.

The Met office said it has been an extremely wet January with the entire state, especially the higher reaches, experiencing snowfall far above normal level.

“The overall precipitation, both solid and liquid forms, from January 1 to 18 was 107 mm against the normal of 43.5 mm. At least 146 mm of excess snowfall and rain combined has been recorded,” said Mat department director Manmohan Singh.

“Only Lahaul and Spiti out of 12 districts saw normal precipitation,” he added. He said even hills in lower altitude areas saw plenty of snowfall after a long gap.

“We still have 60 days of active snowfall remaining in the state,” he said.
“On the brighter side, we expect optimum hydropower generation this summer. More snowfall means more water once the temperature starts soaring,” said Verma.

Himachal Pradesh has abundant water resources with a power generation potential of 23,560 MW. About 6,673 MW have been harnessed till now by the Centre and the state government, private players and joint venture groups.

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