New Delhi: The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) is worried that securing water linkages for thermal power plants is becoming tougher and could hurt plans to boost India’s power generation capacity.
“Already we are having problems in setting up some projects. There has to be a comprehensive plan for setting up water resource facilities in states having potential for thermal development,” said Rakesh Nath, chairman of CEA, the country’s apex power sector planning body.
Of India’s 147,000MW installed capacity, 94,000MW is thermal-power based. Of this 94,000MW, around 80,000MW is coal-fired, while the remaining is fuelled by gas. The country plans to add 78,577MW by 2012. Of this, 4,290MW will be gas-based and around 46,600MW is expected to come from coal-based projects.
“Reservoir creation leads to issues relating to environment, rehabilitation and relocation. We have already taken up the issue with our ministry (power ministry) to take up the issue with the ministry of water resources,” Nath said.
While it takes 40 cu. ft per second (cusec) of water for a 1,000MW coal-based thermal power project, the requirement is 20cusec for a gas-based thermal power unit. Cusec is a measure of the flow rate.
“For all new projects, there is no water linkage available. They have no option but to go for coastal projects by using sea water for the purpose. Only in monsoons there is water in the rivers. We have to create dams for different seasons,” said another CEA official, who didn’t want to be identified.
According to the Central Water Commission, while the average annual rainfall in India is 4,000 billion cu. metres (bcm), the estimated utilizable surface water resources is 690bcm. An official in the ministry of water resources confirmed the problem that thermal power plants are facing, but said: “States are diverting water meant for agricultural use for power generation.”