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BW Businessworld

India's Renewable Energy Projects Under A Cloud

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A series of setbacks have dealt a big blow to NTPC's renewable energy plans, threatening India's own renewable energy goals.

The country’s largest power producer had targeted producing 28 per cent of its overall capacity (over 1,28,000 MW) by 2032 through clean power. But, first, the 660 MW hydro project at Loharinag Pala in Uttarakhand (expected to contribute 8 per cent) got stuck due to local agitations. And  now, two other under-construction hydro projects are also facing issues.

“We had completed 75 per cent of the work at the Loharinag Pala project but had to drop it due to local opposition,” says a company spokesperson. The other two hydro projects are expected to be commissioned by 2017 but are facing their own issues. “We expect 1340 MW of hydro capacity to come up by 2017 and the work is going on these two projects but the projects have their own issues,” informed the company spokesperson.

This includes a 540 MW project at Tapovan Vishnugad in Uttarakhand and an 800 MW project at Koldam hydro project in Himachal Pradesh. Construction work has been going on since 2009 but geological surprises have resulted in delaying the projects which are now only expected to come up in 2017. The construction of a large hydro plant is expected to take 5 years or more according to a paper by the Central Electricity Authority.

Adding more to the company’s troubles is the recent Uttarakhand disaster which raised questions about the entire hydro power agenda of the nation.

"Post Uttarakhand, nobody knows what will happen on the hydro front. We have to decide whether as a country we will take a recall on it,” said Arup Roy Choudhury, CMD of NTPC in an interaction with BW.

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Not just hydro, the company has also been facing problems with its nuclear power projects as well. Expected to add 11 per cent of the total capacity by 2032, NTPC has only one project in hand in a JV with NPCIL. The project expected to come up in Hisar district of Haryana has been moving at a snail’s pace and is stuck in land acquisition issues.

India’s nuclear power agenda also suffered a blow post the Fukushima disaster. The Japan disaster intensified protests against nuclear projects in India resulting in numerous delays in commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear project in Tamil Nadu. As a result, not even a single nuclear power project has been notified since the disaster.

“We are pushing our hydro and want to get to our nuclear programme also. Post Fukushima, nuclear power went for a toss,” says Choudhury.

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