Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Construction of Hydro Power Plants: The Perks of Working part II

I am writing this not because I am pro India.  I wrote this article very long time ago. But I didn't publish it because I thought the timing was wrong. But lately too much has been spoken and I fear it will stigmatise the future projects. 

The Country will be in Debt! 

I do like to hear people complaining about the Hydro Power Projects that are being constructed in our country now. Most say, we are just trying to put ourselves into debt. Let me see, any bank would give loans to citizens, or rather say, used to give loans. Projects weren’t funded by our local banks. Let’s take it to individual level. We have one Financial Institution that is RMA, you can say that is our only Reserve Bank or Central Bank or mother of all banks. And we have people whose salary isn’t even 500$ per month. And they asking for loans, roughly as high as 10,000 $ to buy vehicles or as highly as 1,70,000 $ to build houses. And let’s see, those who have lend those amount to buy cars would pay up in five years or more or less, again, not to forget from his salary which is 500$ per month. And those who have lend that money to build houses have 20 years. Didn’t it ever occur to anyone that we asked more than we could give back? I mean, if everybody was lending and banks weren’t generating the amount they wanted from the interests, then why would banks be in position to further lend other citizens who wanted to follow up this very path?

Since I am working in Project, that doesn’t mean I am defending it. At times, I only wish that few people got FIRED. We have few people who would complain for photocopying bunches of papers. But they forget that those papers were piled up with some engineers' hard work. And at times, I also wish few lazy engineers were fired too. But hey, like I said, I am just an Assistant Engineer.

Now let’s look at the budget of project. Let’s say it takes up 8000 cores for one project to get completed, ie, one 1000MW project. 1 unit, that is 1kwh, let's say is sold at let’s say 2 ngultrum or rupees. Now let’s also consider that during the winter seasons, the production drops down till 20% of 1000 MW. Let’s again say, it is six months of no rainfall out here. So, 6 months we have 200MW and remaining six months, we have 1000MW.

Let’s calculate the worth of 1MW.

1 MW x hr = 1,000 kWh
1000MW x hr = 1,000,000kWh.
1kWh= Rs./ Nu. 2/-

Then, in one hour, two Million is earned. In 24 Hours 48 million earned. And Let’s say 48x6x30 months, 8.64 billion earned. 1000 MW only considered for six months.

Now let’s see about other six months when we have 200MW. We get 200,000 in one hour and in 24 hours, we get 4.8 Million. In six months we might get .864 billion. Say in a year, we get roughly 9.5 billion. Let’s say a Hydro Power Project requires 80 billion to be completed. And yes 6 months of 1000MW won't be there but 200MW won't be there as well, for it is too low. These calculations are based upon my assumptions. You can reduce the peak seasons to four months and remaining months 50% of the total generation. 

Tala was expected to be completed by 14 billion, but it required 41 billion (I remember this figure vaguely while I did seminar in college in the year of 2010. I am not sure how much this figure stands to be true. If you get the correct data, please let me know I shall change it). But you should also know that massive tunneling was done there and upcoming projects don’t have those lengthy tunnels. 

So, if 80 billion is required, and it generates 9.5 billion (my guess) then how many years would it take to clear off the debt? Roughly 8 to 9, let’s say 10 to 11 or 14 to 15 with escalation and interests. And just imagine if we hit off 10000 MW and actually earn 95 billion per year then won't we be able to clear off the debts? That would be like one 1000MW project off our shoulders in a year. 

I don’t know how much my calculations are correct. If I am wrong, please let me know. Because this sort of calculations are done by Electrical Engineers, and me being from different field, I might be wrong. If I am wrong, my utmost apologies and I will take this post down the moment I am reminded that I am wrong. 

India dosen't need our hydro pOwer probjects and where wI'll we sell our electricity? 
The methodology that we are using to built hydropower projects in Bhutan is some 2 decades old comparing to what the Europeans and Japanese are doing. We are still using conventional method with the latest equipments and not tunnel boring machine. And building caverns and tunnels in himalays is a challenge in itself. After two meters pull we are still unaware what rock we might encounter next. Most of the cases are in adverse geological condition.

India does have more potential in their own range but they can't build projects in those areas. Some of the projects have been delayed and some shut after completion of 60% progress. India needs our projects more than we do because in our case human rehabilitation hasn't been problematic. And more over India has always targeted to have 60% enery from thermal and others, remaining 40% from hydro. Their potential to generate might be double than ours but there hasn't been better geographical advantage for them and as aforementioned rehabilitation has been very much problematic in their own himalayas. For instant you won't see much of krishna river in vijaywada because the river is dried up at Nagarjuna project as they have installed all pumped storage plants with kilometers of embankments to store water. Water too is a problem in India.  However most of their equipments installed were not BHEL manufactured but Hitachi. Seen in Srisailam and Nagarjun Sagar during industrial trip.

Energy manufactured for them through thermal and other plants cost them as expensive as Nu. 9 and hydro power Nu. 4 per unit. Not only power generation is cheaper by hydropower but it is cleaner than thermal and others. And today India's situation is that they have 21% hydro and 79% thermal and others. They are paying too much for electricity but yet they have load shedding. We had 7 hours when we were in college. Still they are in short of projects. So, they not buying from us in future is just a myth.

We too have shortage in power, I guess we buy from India during the winter. This however could be solved or for the time being we could loan them some during our peak hours. Say 10 MW for free and 10MW we don't pay in winter. Because our rates and their rates are different. Not only it will be economically beneficial for both the countries because everything we do today needs electricity and it being expensive just means productions of any product shooting up.

So my countrymen, don't think that I am writing this article to behave as if I am more savvy than you, am not. We are a poor nation and growing one, someday our population will sprout as well. Our potential is nearly 40000 MW and we haven't even harnessed 2000MW out of it. Nepal hasn't harnessed more than 1500MW I believe and economically they are struggling a lot. They have more potential than us but they don't have projects that we have. And dear countrymen just because you are not involved and want to, please don't delay projects. This is hydropower and not some wine or fossil fuels which will improve with time or get expensive with time. A project being delayed, a river flowing downhill is already costing us everyday.

PS.: wrote this article not because I am an employee here. I am on my own journey to be relieved from here. Just waiting to be relieved, my health is an issue now. I have few friends and subordinates who have started having problems with their ears and lungs. It is a dirty job not all of us can do. With changing elevations and working on shifts in muddy and dusty areas who is expected to be healthy? Sincerely yours, Knight.  

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