There are so many private hydro powerprojects available for acquisitions. Do they interest you?
Whether stressed or new projects, NHPC is always ready for takeover or joint ventures. But that project, after commissioning, should give appropriate returns. Even the government will not approve the projects, if cost of electricity generated is more than their norms.
Any plant with cost of electricity over Rs 5 is unviable today. We are facing difficulty to sell electricity costing above Rs 4.30 per unit as discoms are refusing to buy the power. The average power generation cost of NHPC isRs 3.20 per unit.
What do you think has gone wrong with private hydropower projects?
When the private generation companies had taken up the projects, open access was easy and prices of power in short-term were ranging between Rs 7 and Rs 10 per unit. Today the price is between Rs 1 to Rs 3 per unit. The private companies have stopped construction of the projects seeing a bleak future.
We have proven that we have the capability of completing these projects despite all odds. Our Kishanganga project in Jammu & Kashmir requires 23.5 kms of tunnel against a generation capacity of just 330 MW. Unlike thermal plants, where all components are fixed, hydro requires 80% civil work and is dependent on geological conditions. Due to unrest in Jammu & Kashmir in past four months we slowed work on the project. Last Wednesday, there was shelling and very near to the dam, so many shells have been pelleted. We do not know their intentions, may be damage to the dam also. Sometimes we have to stop work on projects, but we never abandon them altogether.
What are the biggest challenges faced in implementation of hydropower projects now?
In the present government, getting forest clearances is not a problem, but NGOs are trying to create a negative environment by spreading wrong propaganda. There has been no negative impact of building a dam, not just in India, but anywhere in the world. In fact, there are benefits in terms of conservation of water for drinking and irrigation through dams. Power is a by-product.
What is the status of your projects?
Hydropower is the only hope for India to meet peak load requirement. NHPC currently has an installed capacity of 6,717 MW. We have 3,130 MW hydro plants under construction which include the 330 MW Kishanganga plant, 800 MW Parbati-II and 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower projects.
We expect to commission Kishanganga project in current fiscal. Another 15,000 MW projects are at survey and investigation stage. In renewable, our commitment is to add 430 MW of solar and wind power projects within two years.