Come September, and Tamil Nadu’s energy crisis boils over.
Anticipating a drop in wind power generation by September-end, when the southwest monsoon withdraws, the government has announced the return of power cuts.
Several parts of the State have faced intermittent load shedding for two months. And the crisis is likely to turn acute.
By September-end, the windmills’ contribution to the grid will be negligible. On an average, the wind power accounts for 2,000-4,000 MW between June and September. The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) may lose this cushion any time now. On Wednesday evening, the peak contribution was 1,516 MW. On Thursday morning, it was 376 MW. And the figure could be in double-digits in a week.
“The norm is wind energy, an infirm power, can be 10-15 per cent of the total capacity. In Tamil Nadu, the total capacity of firm power is 12,909 MW. The installed capacity of wind energy accounts for 7,262 MW,” says a policymaker.
“Too much reliance on infirm power is a cause for concern. Once the wind season ends, the power managers will have to resort to power cuts and purchase,” he points outs. Though there has been substantial capacity addition last year, the demand is continuously rising, making the supply-demand mismatch a permanent feature.
As October nears, the scenario looks grim; the power managers have quite a task at hand as there has been a delay in the commissioning of plants. After a delay of two years, the NTPC joint venture Vallur III unit was to have been commissioned in August. “It will be ready by the first week of October,” says a Tangedco official.
From August, the State was expecting 1,000 MW from its long-term power purchase agreements. But, this is yet to come off as the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is keen on ensuring the north-south grid stability. Then, there is the issue of priority among the four power-starved southern States, sources say.
Some relief can be expected only in January and February when the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) TPS II Expansion units are expected to be commissioned. The State’s share will be 230 MW.
At the same time, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit II will achieve criticality. After the hydro tests that will last till October, fuel-loading will be taken up, sources say. Once mandatory tests are found satisfactory, the unit will be commissioned. Tamil Nadu will get its share of 463 MW at the end of the first quarter of 2015, Tangedco officials say.
By this time, as the government itself has admitted in the Energy Department’s policy note, the demand will be 14,500 MW. The Tangedco will have to sweat it out till next June, when the south-westerly winds will arrive, late as they were in a few summers.
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