JK energy on Coals

Thermal substitute for hydroelectric power. No win strategy for J&K, win win for national grid

WRONG POLICY

DR. JAVID IQBAL

Imagine a state rich in hydroelectric resources being asked to use coal instead of water to generate electricity. JK energy may not be taken to be only proverbially on coals, the energy sector has virtually shown a willingness to get on coals, with reports of setting-up of 1300 MW coal driver thermal power plant. J&K State hydro-electric sector has not only the potential for generating its own energy needs, but has considerable export potential. The state, it might be noted is already self sufficient, if only it were to free to use 1680 MW supplied to national grid, in addition to 758 MW in state sector. JK’s present need adds up to around 2500 MW. One sided deals with NHPC by insensitive state governments in the past has resulted in massive losses to the state. State should have been sensitive enough to secure its own needs, before embarking on deals of mutual interest.
A review of India’s energy scenario indicates what J&K state is being asked to get into. Indian Budget 2013-14 has a total outlay of 16.65 trillion rupees with 2.48 trillion rupees subsidies bill. Major part of subsidy bill is meant to maintain energy profile, apart from providing subsidized food. Food subsidy cannot be de-linked from energy profile. Distribution of food items is energy dependent. With 2.03 trillion defence allocation, subsidies and defence make-up approximately one fourth [4.51 trillion] of Indian budget. The energy bill is growing by the day, as India’s energy requirement is met mostly by fossil fuel imports. With dwindling coal resources, India stands to import coal as the principal fossil fuel accounting for approximately 40 percent of total energy consumption with crude oil at 24% approximately and 6 % natural gas.
In the Indian energy sector, recent figures of December, 2012 make an interesting reading. It may be explained as the break-up of total installed capacity and the energy sectors that compose the installed capacity. Out of a total of 2, 10, 951.72 MW, central sector holds 86, 405.86 MW, state sector 62, 886.14 MW, private sector-61, 659 MW. The various energy sectors that compose and compile the installed capacity are related as:
Energy sector Capacity in MW Percentage
Coal 1, 20, 873.38 57.29 %
Hydro-electric 39, 339.40 18.64 %
Renewable 25,856.14 12.25 %
Gas 18, 903.05 8.96 %
Nuclear 4780 2.26 %
Oil 1,199.75 0.56 %
Out of 2 lac 10 thousand odd MW total installations, coal constitutes one lac 20 thousand odd MW is generated from coal, which is more than half. With coal import hiking the energy bill, India would like to diversify; the options available are hiking hydro-electric power generation and harnessing renewable sources like solar and wind energy.  Renewable energy sources are being tapped with plans to tap wind energy. Solar energy by 2022 A.D is planned to be increased to 20 gaga watts. Nuclear share is planned to be raised to about 9% of installed capacity. Of late however there is greater attention being paid to hydro-electric resources. It is estimated that countrywide approximately one lac, thirty thousand [1, 30, 000] MW could be generated from hydro rich states—J&K, Arunachal, Himachal, Punjab and Uttrakhand. Arunachal’s capacity is believed to be around 40,000 MW. Previous estimates of J&K’s capacity was 20,000 MW—latest estimates indicate that it could be as high as 30, 000 MW, given the improved technology and higher run of the river flow in higher reaches of Leh and Kargil.   
The stakes involved in tapping hydro-electrical resources are huge investment…each mega watt generation needs 8-10 crores in investment. Given that about 39,000 MW generation from hydro-electric sources is already operational, generation of more or less one lac MW’s involves about ten lac crores in investment. Add to that inflationary pressures over the years of tapping the resource holistically, and you are face to face with a planning challenge of huge magnitude. However, once put in place, the dependence of fossil fuels imports—coal primarily would drop and that would mean a reduced energy bill and lesser strain on foreign exchange reserves, lesser inflationary pressure, and more funds available for infrastructural build-up, besides helping in holding the price line. There is a snag however; total installation is slated to hike much higher from the present 2 lac, 10 thousand odd MW.  And there might not be a major respite from coal imports, as the need multiplies. However hike in hydro-electric power generation is bound to ensure energy security in future.
In the recent past, Dilip Padgoankar led interlocutors team in the report submitted to GOI stressed that recommended constitutional measures in J&K state have to make a provision for energy security. Thus ensuring energy security got added to what was a common knowledge, ensuring geopolitical security. India’s energy hunger has emerged as an additional factor in Kashmir imbroglio. It might affect conflict resolution. That could be a long shot, in the short term, there should be no room for J&K becoming a partner in coal import, an import that the hydro rich state does not need at all. Besides J&K is carbon positive state, only one apart from Kerala. Thermal power generation from coal is hardly needed. It might add to eco-fragility, already considerable.     
 Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
iqbal.javid46@gmail.com     

Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST




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