Pumped storage plants to boost renewable power investments in Andhra Pradesh

According to senior officials, 30 potential sites—four on river and 26 off river—have been identified for setting up PSPs.
Representational image
Representational image

VIJAYAWADA: With balancing variable renewable energy (VRE) power, grid stability and meeting peak energy demand as major objectives, the State Energy department is planning to promote the establishment of pumped storage power (PSP) projects, also called pumped storage hydroelectric (PSH) plants, across the state. The proposal, for which feasibility studies have already been conducted, is a part of the renewable export policy being prepared by the government to promote and facilitate renewable power investments in the State.

According to senior officials, 30 potential sites—four on river and 26 off river—have been identified for setting up PSPs. Data have been collected from the Andhra Pradesh Water Resources Information and Management System (APWRIMS) and also the PSP data mapped by Australian National University for taking up feasibility studies.

The Non-conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Limited (NREDCAP) is the nodal agency for the project and WAPCOS Ltd and Tata Consulting Engineers have been entrusted with techno-commercial feasibility studies.

“The major advantages of PSH/PSP plants are grid stability and balancing renewable energy. But they will also help in reduction of power purchase costs during peak hours. Besides these, they will create exportable energy links beyond the renewable power purchase obligation, consumption and other parameters,” joint managing director of APTRANSCO KVN Chakradhar Babu told TNIE.

While WAPCOS studied 23 sites, Tata Consulting Engineers(TCE) examined the remaining seven sites. Out of the 30 sites, one site was found unfeasible due to logistic issues. The draft reports have been prepared for 29 sites. The total estimated potential of PSP Projects in the State is 33,240 MW -- 30,140 MW at off-river sites and 3,100 MW at on-river sites.

On Friday, Energy secretary Nagulapalli Srikant, APTRANSCO JMD KVN Chakradhar and vice chairman and managing director of S Ramana Reddy held a meeting with WAPCOS and TCE in which a detailed presentation was made by the consultants. The final reports are expected to be submitted in 15 days after the receipt of comments from APGENCO and NREDCAP.

Officials said that the final reports, once submitted, would be presented to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for deciding the mode of execution of the plants -- government or public-private participation or engaging private players -- depending on their feasibility. The department plans to take up the project in a phased manner over four years.

Although PSHs/PHPs are capital intensive, the geographical potentiality of AP and other factors would help in harnessing non-conventional power at low cost.

“Some states are working on such projects, but no one is doing it at the scale we are proposing for. The energy we get from PSHs/PSPs is also renewable. Taking the state’s energy needs into consideration, we are promoting renewable energy as much as possible,” another official privy to the proposal noted.

What is a PSP or PSH plant?

Pumped-storage power plants are reversible hydroelectric facilities where water is pumped upwards into a reservoir from a water source below it. Whenever water is needed,  the water is pumped downwards and is then harnessed to produce electricity in the same way as conventional hydroelectric plants using turbines.

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