THDC India Ltd, formerly Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd, was incorporated in 1988 with the objective of developing mainly the mega 2,400-mw Tehri hydropower complex. It is amongst the early instances of a joint venture between the Union and any state government, in the field of hydropower. In this exclusive exchange, D.V. Singh, discusses the challenges in executing large hydropower projects, and also explains how THDC is consciously diversifying into other forms of clean energy like wind and solar.
THDC represents a joint venture between the Central and State Governments to execute challenging hydropower projects. What advantages did THDC enjoy as compared with a pure Central Government agency or a pure State Government entity?
As a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE), THDCIL enjoys greater freedom to take business decisions in the interest of corporation and nation at large, through their board.
Many limitations of pure central government organization and state government organization are done away with. This is the basic premise on which CPSEs have been founded. The decisions are taken by the Board and do not require Parliament or Assembly approvals for certain things. Many powers have been entrusted upon Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna PSEs to accelerate decision making.
The Tehri Dam hydropower project, as we understand, has completed one decade of operations. How has the plant been faring in terms of power generation?
Yes, Tehri HPP has been generating quality peak power for last ten years of operation. We have always been able to consistently achieve the generation targets set by the Government of India. We are generating energy during peak hours at affordable price. The plant availability factor of Tehri is 82 per cent which is considered to be excellent for a storage project like Tehri having large variation in reservoir level. Total energy generated so far is 34480 million kwh whereas the energy generated during the last fiscal (FY17) was 3146 million kwh.
Though delayed, the situation at the under-construction 444-mw Vishnugad Pipalkoti HEP is gradually improving.
The 444-MW Vishnugad Pipalkoti hydropower project is reportedly moving slower than anticipated. What have been the main challenges in this World Bank-aided project, and is the broad current status? When is commissioning expected?
Large engineering construction projects always involve lot of challenges but unlike other projects, hydropower project that too in the youngest mountains such as Himalayas involves a lot of additional challenges like complex geological setup and remote project locations. In the case of Vishnugad Pipalkoti HEP, the main challenges are:
Though delayed, the situation is gradually improving and we have made good progress in river diversion works and desilting chamber. Soon, the river would be diverted in order to enable the start of dam works. Moreover, we are also working to make up for the lost time. We have already resolved major issues in hydro-mechanical and electromechanical works. Commissioning of the project is expected in November 2020.
The 1,000-mw Tehri pumped storage scheme is likely to commission by 2020, by current thinking
Similarly, what is the current status of the 1000-MW Tehri pumped storage scheme, which is amongst India’s largest pumped storage projects?
Project received set back due to following broad reasons:
How is THDC trying to improve the situation?
THDCIL is trying to improve the work progress. Interest bearing working capital Advance against Bank Guarantees has been provided to the contractor to counter cash flow problems.
Around 60 per cent of the works have been executed so far with respect to electromechanical and hydro-mechanical works. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by December 2020.
THDC has successfully diversified into wind energy with a current operational portfolio of over 100 MW. Tell us more on your wind energy business.
THDCIL has commissioned two wind power projects—50 mw at Patan and 63 mw at Dwaraka in Gujarat. The Dwarka project of 30×2.1-mw was commissioned in a record time of four months on March 30, 2017 for which THDCIL was able to get the generation-based incentive (GBI) from Government of India. During the next five years, THDCIL is planning to add another 250 mw of renewable energy to its portfolio.
Does THDC plan to enter the solar energy business?
An MOU has already been signed between THDCIL and SECI in 2015 for setting up a 250-mw solar photovoltaic (PV) project. Accordingly, a tripartite agreement has been signed between SECI, THDCIL and KSEB for development of 50-mw solar power project in Kasargod, Kerala. The work is likely to be awarded by end of this year. The power purchase agreement (PPA) for this project has been signed with Kerala State Electricity Board.
THDC has diversified even into thermal power generation with the 1,320-mw Khurja supercritical power project in Uttar Pradesh. What has been further progress on the project after the environmental clearance secured in May this year?
The consultancy contract for DPR of Amelia coal mines has been awarded to CMPDIL in April, 2017. The draft report has been submitted by CMPDIL. The process of land acquisition is underway. Further, NTPC has been appointed as consultant for rendering consultancy from concept to commissioning. The investment approval of the project is expected soon.
Please tell us in brief about expanding your hydropower business to other states, Maharashtra for instance.
In the current power mix scenario of the country, it is inevitable to add hydropower projects to the grid in order to absorb the intermittency of renewable power. Further, pumped storage plants are essentially required to be constructed to cater this need more. The Malshej Ghat Pumped Storage Project in Maharashtra, whose DPR has already been submitted to the Maharashtra government by a joint venture of THDCIL and NPCIL is yet to be awarded to joint venture The project has been kept in abeyance by Maharashtra Government due to financial constraints.
India has made a strategic decision to invest in hydropower capacity in water-rich countries like Bhutan and Nepal. What is your view? What is the broad current status of THDC’s 2,560-MW Sankosh hydropower project in Bhutan?
The projects in Bhutan are strategically very important to India, particularly in the aftermath of the Doklam crisis. The DPR of Sankosh project has been cleared by Indian and Bhutanese governments. A meeting was held on 24th October 24, 2017, in MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) regarding implementation of Sankosh hydroelectric project. THDCIL is making all out efforts to get the project for implementation. The 180-mw Bunakha project, also in Bhutan, and whose DPR was also prepared by THDCIL is still pending due to financing issues in downstream projects.
Tell us about your envisaged power portfolio over the next five years across various types like hydropower, thermal and renewable.
In the next five years, the 1000-mwTehri pumped storage plant, 444-mw Vishugad Pipalkoti HEP and 24-mw Dhukwan SHEP will be commissioned taking our installed capacity in hydropower to 2,868 mw. Besides, we will be adding 1320-mw thermal power capacity through the Khurja super thermal power plant. We also envisage adding 50 mw of wind power and 200 mw of solar power to our renewable power portfolio in the next five years. Thus, we see our company with installed capacity of 4,551 mw in next five years.