General Electric to set up 1.5-GW pumped hydropower storage capacity for 3 Indian units

General Electric (GE) has entered into agreements with Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Limited (THDC) India, National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) and Megha Power to set up a combined pumped hydropower storage capacity of 1.5 giga watt (GW) for them.

The total project cost to set up the entire 1.5 GW capacity is estimated to be between Rs 1,500 and Rs 1,800 crore. This is equivalent to Rs 1-12 crore per mega watt (MW) as compared with Rs 4 crore per MW of thermal power and Rs 2.5 to 3 crore of renewable energy.

Pumped hydro is seen as an alternate, most economical and reliable form of peak power generation that can easily provide 400 MW to 1GW in less than 60 seconds at a cost less than half of conventional power generation.

Under pumped hydro storage, large volume of water is released from a reservoir at a height of up to 500 metres that rotates a turbine and generates power of up to 1 GW in the process. The water released is collected in another reservoir below and after an operation of 10-12 hours is pumped back to the upper reservoir. So there is no displacement of the resource and it’s ploughed back.

Brian Selby, regional general manager Asia, China and India, at GE, noted that China has plans to set up 180 GW of pumped hydropower capacity by 2030. Pumped hydropower will be the “national firming stabilisation technology” for Chinese grid. This is similar to pushing back 180 GW of capacity back to the grid.

India can emulate the model by identifying a clear target for pumped hydropower under the plan to have 450 GW renewable energy capacity by 2030. “This can be done without creating any harm to India’s regulatory processes, environmental commitments and sustainability goals. But will send a clear-cut message to the investors about governments’ commitment towards hydro adoption and will help them invest with more confidence,” Selby added.

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