UJVNL: Driving hydropower growth in Uttarakhand

Incorporated in 2001 by the state government, Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Ni­gam Limited (UJVNL) has been playing a key role in meeting the power re­quirements of Uttarakhand. The company is responsible for hydropower generation through the de­velopment of new projects, and the reno­va­tion, modernisation and upgradation of the existing ones in the state.

UJVNL has built a portfolio of 1.4 GW of hy­dropower projects so far. During 2022-23, it commissioned a new hydro­power pl­a­nt, the 120 MW Vyasi project, in Dehra­dun.

Going forward, the company has a str­ong project pipeline and is working to­wards enhancing the state’s hydro­power portfolio to 6.27 GW by 2025 and 7.64 GW by 2030. Servicing and rehabilitation of existing projects are also among the key strategies of UJVNL. Besides, it is wor­king on the development of solar en­ergy projects in the state. UJVNL plans to enhance its generation capacity from ar­ound 5,000 MUs per annum to 10,000 MUs per annum by 2030.

Project portfolio and operational performance

UJVNL’s existing hydropower capacity of 1,420.6 MW comprises small hydropower projects (SHPs) and large hydropower projects (LHPs) of above 25 MW.

LHPs account for around 96.6 per cent (1,372.15 MW) of the total installed ca­pa­city while SHPs account for the re­mai­ning 3.4 per cent (48.45 MW). UJVNL’s key lar­ge hydro projects are the 304 MW Maneri Bhali-II hydroelectric project (HEP), the 240 MW Chibro HEP, the 198 MW Ra­mganga HEP, the 144 MW Chilla HEP and the 120 MW Khodri HEP, am­ong others.

In total, the company has 19 LHPs and SHPs in the state. Its latest projects, add­ed in May 2022, are the 120 MW (2×60 MW) Vyasi hydropower project and the Kali­ganga-II SHP (4.5 MW). The Vyasi hy­dropower station is a run-of-the-river pro­je­ct on the Yamuna River with a pon­dage sc­he­me, located at Juddo. The Kali­gan­ga-II SHP is a run-of-the-river project without any storage.

The commissioning of these projects has helped in increasing the company’s ins­tall­ed capacity from 1,317.96 MW in 2017-18 to 1,322.46 MW in 2021-22 to 1,420 MW during 2022-23.

During 2021-22, UJVNL’s hydropower pro­jects generated a total of 5,157.27 MUs ag­ainst the target generation of 4,837 MUs. Its hydropower generation has inc­re­a­s­ed by 8.47 per cent from 4,754.77 MUs in 2020-21. As of Dece­m­ber 2022, el­ec­tri­city generation stood at 4,647.59 MUs. Six of its power stations – Ma­neri Bhali-II (4×76 MW), Chilla (4×36 MW), Chibro (4×60 MW), Vyasi (2×60 MW), Khodri (4×30 MW) and Maneri Bh­a­li-I (3×30 MW) – accounted for ar­ound 77.3 per cent of the total generation.

The utility’s Pathri SHP has achieved the highest availability of 97.63 per cent, followed by the Dhalipur LHP (96.28 per ce­nt), the Maneri Bhali-I LHP (90.99 per ce­nt), and the Khatima LHP (90.19 per cent) during 2021-22.

UJVNL also operates grid-connected solar PV plants of 26.36 MW capacity. Of the total grid-connected solar PV plants, 20 MW has been installed at the Yamuna Valley, 5.864 MW near its Khodri HEP and Dhakrani HEP and a 0.5 MW rooftop solar PV plant at the Pathri HEP. During 2021-22, the average CUF for its solar plants was 16.3 per cent.

Financial performance

UJVNL registered a total income of Rs 9.5 billion during 2021-22 as against Rs 9.57 billion during 2020-21, recording a decline of nearly 0.73 per cent. During 2017-18 to 2021-22, the company’s total in­come grew at a CAGR of 5.12 per cent. By 2030, the company’s targeted turn­ov­er will be Rs 34 billion. Meanwhile, it re­cor­ded a net profit of Rs 1.22 billion during 2021-22 as against a profit of Rs 1.41 billion during 2020-21. The net profit has registered a CAGR of 17.5 per cent since 2017-18.

The company’s capex increased by 8.73 per cent to Rs 1.99 billion in 2021-22 fr­om Rs 1.83 billion in 2020-21. UJVNL’s net wor­th stands at Rs 26.14 billion as of Mar­ch 31, 2022.

Future plans

UJVNL has several large and small hydro power projects under construction, ex­pe­c­­ted to be commissioned in the next five to seven years. It is undertaking the co­nstruction of the Lakhwar HEP (3×100 MW), which is expected to be commis­sio­ned by December 2027. In addition, the Bhil­angna SHP (24 MW) and the Ma­dh­maheshwar SHP (15 MW) are sche­duled to be commissioned in Dec­ember 2026 and March 2023 respectively. Fur­ther, the construction of the Su­ri­ngad-II SHP (5 MW) is completed, and the project is sc­he­duled to be commissioned soon.

UJVNL is implementing another key project, the Kishau multipurpose project, in a joint venture with the Himachal Pradesh government. The project, with a proposed installation of 660 MW (4×165 MW), is ex­pected to have an annual en­er­gy generation of 1,379 MUs. The project is scheduled to be commission­ed in March 2028. Once completed, it will be­ne­fit six states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.

For the next two years, that is, 2023-24 and 2024-25, the company has planned a capital expenditure of around Rs 14.55 billion and Rs 12.54 billion, respectively for its up­coming large hydro projects. Mean­while, capex of Rs 1.66 billion and Rs 2.91 billion has been planned for SHPs during the same period.

Apart from projects under construction, there are various hydro projects for whi­ch DPR are under preparation. These projects include the Arakot Tiuni HEP (3×27 MW), Tiuni Plasu HEP (3×24 MW), Sarkari Bhyol Rupsiabagar HEP (4×30 MW), Bo­wla Nandprayag HEP (4×75 MW), Nand Pyayag Langasu HEP (4×25 MW), Tamak Lata HEP (4×47.5 MW) and Sela Urthing HEP (4×50.5 MW).

The company is also undertaking renovation, modernisation and uprating wo­r­ks for the Dhalipur (51 MW), Chilla (144 MW), Tiloth (90 MW) and Dhakrani (33.75 MW) projects. UJVNL is underta­king repair and maintenance works for five barrages with financial assistance from the World Bank under its Dam Re­habilita­tion and Impro­ve­ment Project.

Apart from hydro, the genco is planning to install 150 MW of solar power capacity at various project sites and on unuti­lised land around buildings in the next five ye­ars at an in­vestment of around Rs 8.25 billion. Fur­ther, it is planning to install canal-based solar projects.

In the long term, UJVNL aims to explore other clean energy technologies such as green hydrogen and hybrid solar-hydro and PSP projects for the supply of ro­und-the-clock power.

On the technology front, the company is planning to install hydro kinetic turbi­nes (HKT) on channels/streams. HKT is ex­pected to harness power at the community level. It will provide non-polluting en­ergy to remote areas where grid power is not available. Also, it could supplement so­­lar-powered irrigation pumps.

Challenges and the way forward

The issues and challenges facing the hyd­ropower segment impact UJVNL as well. These include local issues causing delays in project implementation, lack of competent contractors, long gestation periods, and delays in availability of evacuation in­frastructure, leading to time and cost ov­er­runs and unviable tariffs under power purchase agreements. There are other ch­allenges such as difficult terrain, geolo­gical surprises while developing projects and natural disasters.

On a brighter note, the state government is implementing enabling measures to support hydropower producers in Utta­ra­khand. The state government has app­ro­ved a new policy, under which inves­tors will now have to pay Rs 0.01 million as de­ve­lopment tax, which was earlier Rs 2.5 million. Another amendment has been the allocation of projects for 40 years after the scheduled commercial operation date.

Going forward, the timely execution of projects by UJVNL will play a key role in hel­ping the state achieve stable and se­cu­re power supply from green energy so­ur­ces and achieve its growth targets.

Based on presentations by Pankaj Kulshreshth, Executive Director, UJVNL, at a recent Power Line conference