Wednesday, May 29, 2024
India News

Amid rising power demand in Kerala, CIAL shows the way in tapping hydel projects

As power consumption has reached an all-time high in the State in the middle of a scorching summer, experts feel that the State must take a cue from the success of Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) in tapping small hydro-electric power generation potential to meet at least a part of the rising demand and to keep costs down.

CIAL Infrastructures Limited, CIAL’s holding company, operates a small hydel project at Arippara in Kozhikode district with an installed capacity to produce 4.5 MW of power. The run-of-the river facility has been allotted on a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis for a period of 30 years from October 2014.

The project is in operation during the rainy season and over the past two seasons, the facility has generated 2.5 crore units of power since it was commissioned in October, 2021.

Together with its solar power generation facility, the airport is energy-neutral and has produced 34 crore units up to the end of April 2024. The airport generates two lakh units of electrical energy per day, while the demand is around 1.74 lakh units.

According to reports, Kerala’s peak hour power demand touched 5,797 MW on May 2 from the previous high of 5,646 MW on April 29.

Experts who have looked into the tapping of small hydel potential in the State said that around 40% of the potential had been either tapped or is on the verge of being utilised.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has identified a small hydel potential of around 650 MW in the State. Of this, 84 MW generation has been connected to the grid under the private sector. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has on its own implemented projects for 177 MW generation. Another 186 MW is in the pipeline under the board’s initiatives.

There are also small hydel projects that can generate around 90 MW of power but have been abandoned because of the difficulties associated with land acquisition, mainly forest land availability. In many cases, the land falls within forest or reserve areas or wildlife sanctuaries, sources said.

In addition to these, there may be around 250 potential very small projects under the Pico hydel category. Power generated from many such tiny units installed by individuals are not fed into the grid till now but can be utilised to power households or small enterprises in localities in the vicinity of the generation centre.

Sources pointed out that the KSEB was often reluctant to buy power at rates more than its pooled average price purchase cost. Power generated by small hydel units under the private sector may sometimes exceed this limit forcing the developer to abandon the project.