Mr Avinash Brahmbhatt recounts his experiences.....

Geothermal power generation in India

Current Massive Power Shortages in India are forcing industries in parts of the country to operate only 4 days a week.  Agricultural sector is also affected and the future prospects  of electricity from coal or petroleum products or hydro sources do not appear any too bright. Cost of conventional fuels keeps rising and so does the cost of electricity.

In this context given the non-polluting characteristics of geothermal power and the inexhaustible supply available, India ought to take immediate steps to exploit this source of energy.

Realising the vast potential of geothermal energy, says Mr Brahmbhatt, I  started studying this  subject about 10 years back and have compiled data and made studies on the most likely spots in Gujarat and India which will give high yields and returns in Geothermal Energy.

Hoping to help ease the power shortage and  contain the environmental pollution caused by coal and petro based power generating stations, he continues,  I prepared a detailed project report  and approached the State and Central Government to find out if they would be interested in directly  or indirectly funding the project.  Sad to say  present policies of the Governments do not have any defined stand on geothermal power and  with the deregulation of power all they can offer is a power purchase agreement.  I applied for a power purchase agreement and for some reason or the other this matter is being delayed.  I have been to Delhi and met  authorities of MNES (Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources)  who stated that geothermal energy and its exploration and exloitation is outside their purview of operations. In fact I came up against a blank stone wall.

Even requests to the State Government to help in acquisition of the land has not elicited any positive response.

All I am told is : "produce all the power you can : we will buy it all!"

The only bright star on the horizon is that   negotiations are on with private investors  and pretty soon I hope to commence on the project. ....

 

The government of Gujarat has now come up with an "incentive scheme for energy generation through renewable energy soruces - 2001 and passed resolution No REP-102000-502-B, salient points of which are given below...

The latest news is that Government of Gujarat has framed a new policy and pased a government resolution (No REP-102000-502-B) aimed at formulating an incentive policy for  solar photo voltaic, geothermal, waste utilization, biomass, etc. Under this Policy

project promoters in any of these categories wishing to set up power generating projects to sell power to Gujarat Electricity Board shall have to enter into a power purchase agreement at Rs. 2.25 per unit (1994-95 as base with 5% escalation in rate every year for a period of 10 years from date of commencement of generation of power)
Investor shall lay down power evacuating lines to the grid lines of GEB at his own cost
Metering at site shall be done by Gujarat Energy Development Agency and GEB jointly and GEB shall make payment within 30 days of receipt of invoice. An "Electricity Credit Note"  shall be issued by GEB to the power supplier which can be transferred to any HT consumer of GEB who can adjust his electricity bills against the "credit note".
Wheeling charges of 4% of the generated units shall be deducted.
Third party sale of power shall be permitted subject to payment of 4% wheeling charges.
Banking for a period of 12 months shall be permitted by GEB
GEDA will function as nodal agency for the purpose of implementation of this scheme.
Investors will submit applications to GEDA in prescribed form and for grid interface to GEB along with a payment of Rs. 200000 per MW (to cover incidental expenses)
Investor shall prepare and submit a detailed project report within 6 months from date of "in principle" approval to be got approved from E&PCD department of Government of Gujarat..
Other approvals/NOCshall be required for the project and have to be arranged/obtained by the investor.
Once these procedures are completed investor shall enter into PPA/wheeling agreement/third party sale, etc. in consultation with EPD in Government of Gujarat.
If investor does not take "effective steps" to implement project within 12 months from date of government approval of the project, government shall terminate approval without any further notice. "Effective steps" is interpreted as incurring at least 25% of project cost within 12 months from date of government order allocating the project.

 

Let us see how progressive this policy proves to be.

As the situation stands, in rural areas of Gujarat power supply by GEB is drastically curtailed and even industries have to observe 2 days' staggering.

Whether prospective investors will be willing to shell out Rs. 2 lacs per MW of power intended to be produced remains to be seen.

An investor in say geothermal power  project of 50 MW would be first of all required to shell out Rs. 1000,000 to GEDA (incidental expenses ?!). Against this he gets no observable tangible benefit and has to undergo all procedures on his own starting from procurement of land to obtaining all government permissions and NOCs. Where are the incentives?

 

all views aired here are those of the respective authors.