Small Hydro power is not every investor’s cup of tea : Mr. S. C. Mittal
He is Civil Engg. and started his carrier with NHPC in 1985. He has vast experience in working of Civil and Mechanical works in different Hydro projects in India as well as overseas. He is also worked with private firm at corporate level like M/s Aquagreen Engineering Mgmt. Pvt. Ltd. and M/s SNC Lavalin Engineering India
Q. 1 what are the biggest challenges in the development of a Hydropower plant Social, Economical and technical.
Big social challenge is location of hydro projects in remote tribal areas. Tribal societies feel that the projects have been imposed from above and do not carry their consent. This perception needs to be addressed at the state government levels. Smaller projects should be owned by local institutions and not by state government.
Economical challenges include high cost, long gestation and financing of investigations as well financing of cost over runs during latter stage of project construction.
So far technical challenges are concerned; they are both logistics related as well as geology related. Construction and maintenance of access roads are huge challenges during construction stage. Geology related challenges are both in surface excavations and underground excavations.
Q 2. Are centre government and state government policies and incentives adequate for growth of the sector?
Policies in general address the challenges of sector. But for example, project preparation phase can extend to upto five years due to constrain of funding, logistics, local aspirations and cumbersome procedures and approvals. This is slowly getting into attention of state govt., but there is no proactive mechanism to address the same due to fragmented approval process.
Q.3 How much is the affect of long gestation period of hydro plants on getting required funds from the investors.
Long gestation period of hydro projects is an additional impediment. Other impediments are as important. It is the uncertainty of execution that puts the investors off. Only very serious and long term investors with a lot of financial cushion can actually surpass the impediments. Thus Hydro power is not every investor’s cup of tea.
Q4. Does India have adequate technology of its own to tap potential range or we have to look for foreign collaboration partners.
I think India has acquired adequate technology during last one decade and is quite well spread. Foreign collaboration partners are not necessarily needed for technology.
Q5. For SHP plants, transmission is always a problem. What can be suitable solution for it?
For SHP to be viable, large hydro projects should already exist in that area. This helps in evacuation of power in the nearby substation. Alternatively, the SHP should be captive for local consumption There should be greater subsidies and viability gap funding and grants for SHP. Plants should preferably be owned by panchayats and should be grant funded by state governments from the revenue earned from large projects.
Q.6 Site assessment is very important for SHP plants. What are the most critical parameters new developers should keep in mind while choosing a site?
New Investors should look into sites with good existing logistics. Both surge shaft locations and barrage locations should be already accessible. Project should not be in slide prone area. Head should be more and quantum of civil works less. There should be transit and stay facilities in the region. There should existing hydroproject in the vicinity.