Why harnessing potential 20,000MW hyrdo power is not a wise option
Jammu and Kashmir does have the potential to generate up to 20,000 megawatts of hydro power. But at a time when the rate of power in the market is less than that would be generated by new hydroelectric plants, it makes little sense to build new power projects, experts say.
Take for example the most recent power project inaugurated in the state: the 450 MW Baglihar II. It sells a unit of power at Rs 3.5 to the Power Development Department, although the cost of generation per unit is more than Rs 4.
That is why the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) is having a tough time selling power from Baglihar. The highest it had been offered by an outside entity is Rs 2.5 per unit.
The Salal power project, which is largest power project in operation in the state for many years now, sells a unit of power at the cheapest Re 1 currently. In 2013, the rate per unit was Rs 1.60.
So, rather than making a power plant that will generate a unit of electricity at Rs 4, it makes sense to buy it from power projects which offer a unit at a lesser price.
Of the potential 20,000 MW, 16,475 MW has been identified by the government, including 11,283 MW in Chenab Basin, 3,084 MW in Jhelum Basin, 500 MW in Ravi Basin and 1,608 MW in Indus Basin.
At present, only 3263.46 MW (19.80 % of total potential) has been exploited— 1211.96 MW in the state sector from 21 power projects, 2009 MW from seven projects in central sector (primarily National Hydroelectric Power Corporation) and 42.5 MW in private sector from four projects.
Iftikhar Drabu, an expert on hydro power, told Kashmir Reader that the rate per unit of power has been falling in India due to availability of cheaper sources of energy like thermal power, solar and nuclear and also because hydro power plants in operation for decades offer it at cheaper rates.
Also, Drabu said, many companies have either sold their projects after completion or have been looking for buyers for under-construction projects after realising that no great profits are forthcoming.