Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hydro-power Madness II

India ranks as the world’s fifth largest electricity generator. Its current total installed capacity is in excess of 300GW.

There is a misconception in Bhutan that we are a significant game changer to an energy starved India, in their drive towards energy self-sufficiency. Nothing can be further from reality.

India’s Power Minister Piyush Goyal recently reported in the Rajya Sabha that India imported 5.24 billion units of electricity from Bhutan, in the last fiscal. That figure seems like colossal! But wait just a second – translated as a percentage of India’s total power generation, our export of 5.24 billion units work out to a shamefully inconsequential 0.47% of their total output!

So tell me, how significant are we in India’s hydropower dreams? On a scale of Nu.1.00 we are not even half a Chettrum, and that denomination does not even exist in our currency!

Trust me, India does not need our hydro-electricity now, nor will they need in the future.

By the year 2030 India is poised to generate enough electricity not only to meet, but exceed their energy requirement. Even today some believe that the notion that India suffers energy poverty is a fallacy. They believe that India is already self sufficient in electricity - but that their problem is mismanagement and poor distribution and delivery.

Our situation is ofcourse perilous, to say the least. We can already see it clearly. We are slowly but surely headed towards a situation, a convergence of occurrences, that spell doom for us.

Fourteen years from now, our lone egg basket – India – will achieve self sufficiency in their energy needs.

Fourteen years from now, most of our hydro-electric plants will have outlived their productive life.

Fourteen years from now, our glacial lakes, mountaintops and rivers would be severely depleted of snow, ice and water.

Fourteen years from now, Bhutan would still be straddled with loans amounting to hundreds of billions of Rupees.

Very few, if at all, have understood why I make so much noise about hydropower. I want to clarify:

I do not make noise about it because of my belief that hydropower projects damage our pristine environment - far from it.

I make noise because I firmly believe that in our situation, our hydropower projects will be the VICTIM OF ENVINOMENT. It is clear that the state of the global environment will impact our hydropower projects.
And, indications are that the state of the environment is worsening by the year.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sir,
    It may seem that India does not need to import electricity from Bhutan. However, the fact is more than 62% of their electricity comes from Co2-belching coal fired stations and very minimal from hydro power stations. And there is a global pressure and its obligation to eliminate or at least reduce dependency on such method of energy generation. The Indian government also estimate that it would take at least two decades to give up the energy from the coal. Therefore, India shall need to search for other alternatives; sharing electricity from Bhutan could be one.
    I have had an opportunity to visit one of the Indian thermal stations (in South India) very recently, and through interaction I came to know that the station is going to close in the near future.
    Having Said that I also buy your idea that Bhutan should not depend too much on electricity. There is every chance that too may hydro power projects may ultimately face 'the law of diminishing return' by itself or through other complicated factors.