Good rain in the catchment areas has resulted in all the three major hydel reservoirs of the State having a good storage, similar to last year’s levels. But what has caused concern in the power sector is excessive usage of the hydel storage, apparently to make up for the coal shortage.
Experts feel that peak load management of power in summer months may be affected if the State continues to draw hydel power in excess for some more time.
Karnataka that has a mix of thermal, hydel, and renewable energy sources, as a thumb rule uses hydel storage as back-up power during the summer months to manage the peak load when the demand for power shoots up. This helps in proper management of power supply without load-shedding. During other seasons too, hydel storage is used for managing peak load. This would mean that only a small quantum of hydel storage would be used on a daily basis. However, the present situation of slightly excessive usage of hydel storage has caused concern.
“Perhaps the authorities did not have other option but to increase hydel generation to make up for any shortage in coal availability. But any excessive usage of hydel energy for a longer time now is bound to have an impact during summer months. Those who manage the power supply will have a tough time handling the situation in summer if such a trend continues,” observed a retired senior official. “If the State has been able to manage the power supply well during summer months in the last few years, that is because of the flexibility provided by good hydel storage,” pointed out another retired senior engineer, who stressed the need to conserve hydel energy now, taking advantage of the fact that the demand for power had reduced due to lesser consumption by irrigation pump sets on account of rains.
Statistics show that the three major hydel reservoirs of Linganamakki, Supa, and Mani had 85.09% of cumulative storage around 8 a.m. on October 13 as against 85.1% on the same day last year. This would mean that it is possible to generate 7,393 million units of energy from this level of storage. The State can generate an average of 24.4 million units of hydel energy a day if the entire hydel storage has to last till June 30, 2022, when the hydel reservoirs would again start getting inflows during the southwest monsoon.
However, the State has now been generating 38.925 MUs of power a day which comprises 26.07 MUs from major hydel reservoirs and 12.85 MUs from minor hydro stations that operate mostly during the rainy season. Experts said it was not about using about 2 MUs of additional hydel storage over and above the average, but to make efforts to conserve it.
However, both the retired officials said that the situation was yet to go out of control as there was an indication of Karnataka continuing to get some more good spells of rain.