Hydro and the Tatas go back a long time
By RN Bhaskar — Dec 2, 2013,
By next year, Tata Power Co will embark on its centennial celebrations.
Today, it has an installed hydro capacity of 447 megawatt (mw) in Maharashtra, which is entirely used to meed Mumbai’s power needs, making the city the biggest recipient of green power in the country.
While 447 mw is a small fraction of the 8,560 mw the biggest hydro power producer in the country currently generates (it has another 524 mw under implementation, 9,200 mw in advanced stages of development, in addition to 7,000 mw in projects being scanned), hydel could play a bigger role in the coming years.
Tata Power has entered into a partnership with Norway-based S N Power to develop hydro projects in India and Nepal. The consortium bagged the 240 mw Dugar Hydro Electric Project in Chenab Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The report for this project, which may get commissioned in 5-6 years, has already been approved. The consortium is also exploring the possibility of developing projects in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Tata Power also has a joint venture with the Royal Government of Bhutan (which will hold 74% of the equity with Tata Power holding the balance 26%) to implement the 126 mw Dagachhu Hydro Project with Druk Green Power Co. This project is expected to be completed by end 2014.
It is also executing hydro project in Georgia (with Turkey committing to 85% off-take and Georgia the rest). This involves the setting up of three projects in two phases of 185 mw and 215 mw in partnership with Clean Energy Invest AS and IFC InfraVentures. The first phase of 185 mw is already under execution. The project is estimated to be ready by the end of 2017.
“Since the Khopoli team has decades of experience in running hydel stations, it is possible that operations and maintenance of all these plants in India and overseas will involve the Indian hydel team as well,” says a senior manager at the hydel works at Khopoli (near Lonavla in Maharashtra).
At the same time, the company has continued looking at other renewable energy generation opportunities as well.
It commissioned a 25 mw solar power project in Mithapur, Gujarat, in January 2012 and has also executed a 3 mw solar photo-voltaic plant at Mulshi, one of the largest grid-connected solar projects in Maharashtra.
The company has also embarked upon an innovative floating solar plant, which involves allowing one-hundredth of the surface area of solar panels to float on the surface of a lake and generate the same amount of electricity that the larger panel would generate (http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report-solar-power-over-water-an-interesting-bet-at-tata-1562042).
As the pilot phase is not yet over, and as confidentiality terms with its Australian partner (Sunengy Pty Ltd) do not allow it to speak much about this project at the moment, the company prefers to divulge little about this project. But the potential here is massive, considering that Tata Power has direct access to around 24,000 acres of water surface area. Thus, if all goes well, the potential for this technology could be around 4,000 mw of solar power generation.
Other activities in renewables include an installed capacity of 398 mw of wind power plants spread across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the leading states in promoting wind power generation in India. Cennergi Pty, a joint venture between Tata Power and Exxaro Resources, a South Africa-based diversified resources firm. Based in South Africa, Cennergi will invest in electricity generation projects in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia as well.
Tata Power is also involved in exploring geothermal power with its 240 mw plant in Indonesia.
This is being done through a consortium led by Tata Power along with Origin Energy, Australia and PT Supraco, Indonesia won the Sorik Marapi geothermal project in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
The company is also engaged in waste gas generation through its various plants at Haldia and in Jamshedpur (Power 6) based on the blast furnace and coke-oven gases, which are waste gases from steel making process and help in reducing greenhouse gas emission significantly. It’s looking at other similar projects with Tata Steel.
As P C Kale, division head of the Khopoli hydro plant, puts it, “We at Tata Power are always committed to the environment and continuously explore opportunities to materialise our ideas for going green.”