With the coal crisis setting the alarm bells ringing, tapping the State’s hydropower potential appears to be taking front-seat once again.
Saying that the State should learn from the coal crisis, Electricity Minister K. Krishnankutty on Thursday said hydel projects worth approximately 1,500 MW are in the pipeline. These projects could transform Kerala into a power surplus State, he said. The list includes the proposed 800 MW extension scheme for the Idukki power project and the 200 MW extension proposal for the Sabarigiri hydel project.
The Minister was addressing a review meeting of the State’s power sector organised by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).
In a scenario where the coal situation remained unpredictable, the State had no other option but to increase internal generation, the Minister said. ”We have a peak-hour shortage of about 400 MW at present. Projects worth 200 MW should be completed this year, helping us avoid costly power purchases,” Mr. Krishnankutty said. The tate has 3,000 TMC water, but only 300 TMC was used for irrigation and electricity. Due to various reasons, the State was unable to utilise the full potential, he added.
Of the total consumption of 25,416 million units (MU) in 2021-22, internal generation accounted for only 10,516 MU. Imports, mostly from coal-based thermal power plants across the country, accounted for 14900 MU.
According to the KSEB, the detailed project report for the Idukki extension scheme will be ready this year. The State power utility hopes to kick off work on the project next year, subject to clearances from the Centre. The KSEB had issued the work order for carrying out the feasibility study for the Sabarigiri extension scheme.
Majority of the hydel projects on the cards are small ones. The bigger ones, other than the extension plans for Idukki and Sabarigiri, include the 60 MW Pallivasal extension scheme and the 40 MW Mankulam scheme.
To a question, Mr. Krishnankutty said the contentious 163 MW Athirappilly hydel project was not part of the KSEB’s capacity addition plans at the moment.
The KSEB had posted an operating profit of ₹1,466 crore in 2021-22, Mr. Krishnankutty said. He attributed the achievement to the continuation of Left Democratic Front (LDF) rule, dedication of KSEB employees, efficient dam management, increase in internal generation and corresponding decrease in power purchases. On the other hand, the consolidated loss of KSEB stood at ₹14,000 crore, he noted.
The colour of the stroke of lightning on the KSEB logo is being changed from white to green to indicate the utility’s growing thrust on green energy. The present logo was introduced about 10 years ago.
Power Secretary Rajesh Kumar Sinha, KSEB Chairman and Managing Director B. Ashok, Energy Management Centre director R. Harikumar, ANERT Director Narendra Nath Veluri, KSEB directors and senior officials of the Power department were present.