RESOURCES FOR POWER GENERATION
The hydel power source
plays a vital role in the generation of power, as it is a non-conventional
perennial source of energy. Therefore the French calls it ?huile blanche??white
oil-the power of flowing water. Unlike black oil, it is a non-conventional
energy source. A part of the endless cycle in which moisture is raised by the
sun, formed into clouds and then dropped back to earth to feed the rivers whose
flow can be harnessed to produce hydroelectric power. Water as a source of
power is non-polluting which is a prime requirement of power industry today.
The world?s total
waterpower potential is estimated as 1500 million kW at mean flow. This means
that the energy generated at a load factor of 50% would be 6.5 million kW-hr, a
quantity equiva-lent to 3750 million tonnes of coal at 20% efficiency. The
world hydel installed capacity (as per 1963 estimate is only 65 million kW or
4.3% of the mean flow.
India has colossal
waterpower resources. India?s total mean annual river flows are about 1675
thousand million cubic meters of which the usable resources are 555 thousand
million cubic meters. Out of total river flows, 60% contribution comes from
Himalayan rivers (Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra). 16% from central Indian rivers
(Narmada, Tapti and Mahanadi) and the remaining from the rivers drainning the
Deccan plateau (Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery). India?s power potential from
hydel source as per the recent estimate is 41500 mW while its present hydel
capacity is only 32000 mW. Still India has got enough hydel potential to
develop to meet the increasing power needs of the nation. The abundant
availability of water resources, its fairly even distribution and overall
economy in developing this source of energy enhanced its development in India,
The other factors responsible in its rapid development are indigenous
technological skill, material and cheap labour. In the IX five-year plan; the
Government considering the importance of this source has included a number of
hydro-projects. The major difficulty in the development of hydroelectric
projects is the relatively longer time required for it?s hydrological,
topographical and geological investigations. Lack of suitable. Site is an added
problem for taking up hydro-projects.
Hydropower was once
the dominant source of electrical energy in the world and still is in Canada,
Norway and Switzerland. But its use has decreased in other countries since
1950s, as relatively less expensive fuel was easily available. In USA, only 10%
of the total power production is water-generated. In the light of fuel scarcity
and its up surging prices, the role of hydropower is again re-examined and more
emphasis is being laid on waterpower development. As per Mr. Hays (Manager of
Hydro Projects in USA), ?It was less costly per mW to build a single 1000 mW
thermal plant than 20 small hydro-plants. But, with the increased fuel cost and
high cost of meeting environmental criteria for new thermal plants, interest in
hydro is being revived?. Small hydro-projects ranging from 10 to 1500 kW are
becom-ing more feasible as standardization of major equipment reduces costs.
India is yet to start in the field of micro-hydro projects, which is one major
way for solving the present power problem.
generate power at low cost, it is non conventional, easy to manage, pollution
free and makes no crippling demands on the transportation system. But the major
drawback is, it operates at the mercy of nature. Poor rainfall has on a number
of occasions shown the dangers of over dependence on hydropower.
Let rivers flow and let rains shower the earth with prosperity
is the ancient prayer chanted by Riches and continued to be chanted even now.
The development of
hydropower systems as a back up for thermal systems has significant
advan-tages. The flexible operation of hydraulic turbines makes them suitable
for. Peak load operation. There-fore, the development of hydropower is not only
economical but it also solves the major problem of peak load. The present
Indian policy of power development gives sufficient importance for the
hydel-power development. The next important source for power generation is fuel
in the form of coal, oil or gas. Unfortunately, the oil and gas resources are
very much limited in India. Only few power plants use oil or gas as a source of
energy. India has to import most of the oil required and so it is not desirable
to use it for power generation. The known resources of coal in India are
estimated to be 121,000 million tonnes, which are localized in West Bengal,
Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The present rate of annual production
of coal is nearly 140 million tonnes of which 40 million-tonnes are used for
power generation. The coal used for power generation is mainly low-grade coal
with high ash content (20-40%).
The high ash content
of Indian coal (40?50%) is one of the causes for bad performance of the
existing steam power plants and their frequency outages, as these plants have
been designed for low ash coals. Due to the large resources of coal available
in the country, enough emphasis has been given for thermal Power plants in the
IX plan period.
The location of
hydel-power plants is mostly determined by the natural topography available and
location of thermal plants is dictated by the source of fuel or transportation
facilities available if the, power plant is to be located far from coalmines.
For nuclear power plant any site can be selected paying due consideration to
safety and load. India has to consider nuclear generation in places remote from
coal mines and water power sites. The states which are poor in natural
resources and those which have little untapped conventional resources for
future development have to consider the development of nuclear plants.
The nuclear fuel which
is commonly used for nuclear power plants is uranium. Deposits of uranium have
been located in Bihar and Rajasthan. It is estimated that the present reserves
of uranium available in country may be sufficient to sustain 10,000 mW power
plants for its thorium into nuclear Indian lifetime. Another possible nuclear
power source is thorium, which is abundant in this country, estimated at
500,000 tonnes. But the commercial use of this nuclear fuel is tied up with
development of fast breeder reactor which converts energy economy must wait for
the development of economic meth-ods for using thorium which is expected to be
available before the end of twentieth century. The major hurdle in the
development of nuclear power in this country is lack of technical facility and
foreign exchange required to purchase the main component of nuclear power
plant. Dr. Bhabha had envisaged 8000 mW of power from nuclear reactors by 1980?81
which was subsequently scaled down to a more realistic level of 2700 mW by Dr.
Sarabhai out of this only 1040 MW has materialized which is less than 1.5% of
the country?s installed power capacity. Moreover the performance of nuclear
plants has been satisfactory compared to thermal plants.