The hill state of Himachal Pradesh holds 25 per cent of the total hydropower potential of the country, owing to its abundant water resources. As per estimates, the state has hydropower potential of 27,436 MW, of which 24,500 MW has been assessed as harnessable. However, this potential remains largely untapped, with only about 9.7 GW of capacity operational in the state.
A key player in the state’s hydropower development is state generating company Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL). Incorporated in 2006, HPPCL was formed to handle
power generation on behalf of the Himachal Pradesh government and the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB). With 60 per cent and 40 per cent shares respectively, the state government and HPSEB are major shareholders in the utility.
HPPCL has a current operating portfolio of 295 MW, which includes three hydro projects that have been added in the past one to two years. Its most recent addition is the 100 MW Sainj project, which was commissioned in September 2017 and was funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
As per Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data, HPPCL’s installed capacity comprises three projects – the integrated Kashang project with 65 MW under Stage I and 130 MW under Stages II and III, and the 100 MW Sainj project.
The Kashang Stage I project was commissioned in September 2016, Stage II in August 2016 and Stage III in January 2017. These projects have received funding support from ADB and are registered as green projects under the clean development mechanism. The integrated Kashang project was conceived in 2009. It also envisages a Stage IV project of 48 MW, which will be set up more or less as an independent scheme upstream of Stage II.
The Sainj hydroelectric project (HEP) has been developed as a run-of-the-river project on Sainj river, a tributary of the Beas river in Kullu district, and comprises two turbines of 50 MW each. The project supplies power at 400 kV to the northern region grid with a 400 kV gas-insulated switchgear.
In 2016-17, HPPCL generated 56.09 MUs of power, which was significantly lower than the targeted generation of 266 MUs. Some of the reasons for the poor generation performance were inadequate rainfall (33 per cent lower than the normal rainfall) and the delayed commissioning of the Kashang and Sainj projects.
As per the CEA, HPPCL currently has two projects under execution – the 111 MW Sawra Kuddu and the 450 MW Shongtong Karcham projects. Sawra Kuddu will be developed on the Pabbar river in Shimla district and will comprise three 37 MW units. This project is expected to be commissioned by 2019-20. Meanwhile, Shongtong Karcham will be a run-of-the-river project comprising three 150 MW turbines, which will be supplied by Andritz. The project is being developed on Sutlej river in Kinnaur district and is slated for commissioning in 2021-22.
In addition, HPPCL has 17 projects at various stages of survey and investigation. These include Thana Plaun (191 MW), Nakhtan (Parbati I) (460 MW), Khab (636 MW) and Gyspa Dam (300 MW).
Overall, HPPCL is emerging as a fast growing generating utility in Himachal Pradesh. Timely execution of upcoming projects will help the company contribute to the growing energy demand of the state while ensuring a sustainable environmental and ecological balance.