Pumped storage hydropower is key to Kerala’s green energy dreams: Tata Power CEO

Praveer Sinha. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kochi: Kerala has a great opportunity to become a 100 percent green energy state and it should explore the possibilities of setting up pumped hydro storage projects to manage its power demand judiciously, an expert in the energy sector said here on Thursday.

Praveer Sinha, the CEO and managing director of Tata Power Company Limited, made the suggestion even as praising the state’s initiatives to promote the generation and consumption of renewable energy.

“Kerala has a lot of hydropower. When you have a reservoir, you can do pumped hydropower. For that, you need to have a settlement reservoir. When the demand is low some of the power can be sent back and then again generated during peak hours. This is basically peak management of power. That is why Kerala has a unique opportunity to become a 100 percent green state,” Sinha told Onmanorama during an interaction on the sidelines of the Distribution Utility Meet 2023 here.

He said Tata Power is building a 3,000 MW pumped storage facility in two of its six reservoirs. He added that the Kerala government’s rooftop solar project which helps consumers set up solar plants at a subsidised rate is the right way to move forward to achieve the target of becoming a clean energy state.

“With the project, consumers can generate power by themselves and use it judiciously. When you bring power from faraway places technical and commercial losses occur. It's a win-win for government, distribution companies and consumers,” he said.

Sinha, who is largely credited with making the 108-year-old Tata Power future-ready, said the supply of power has been democratised in the past few years with the increasing push for renewable energy.

“Because of the nature of generation of renewable energy) it can also be done on a distributive basis. You don’t have to set up large plants at single locations. You can build solar plants, microgrids in villages and so on. It's a big opportunity to socialise the generation of power which earlier was the domain of a few utilities that were generating, transmitting and distributing it. Now a consumer himself can generate power which he can use and also sell. It's a big game changer,” he said.

He said the only challenge in achieving renewable energy 24/7 is the intermittent nature of its generation. “Solar energy can be produced only during the daytime, similarly wind in the afternoon or night. How do you make green energy a solution available 24/7 is the question everyone has in their mind. It can be achieved through battery storage technology, hydrogen technology, pumped hydro technology etc. With these technologies the solution will be a reality,” he said.

He said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s statement that Kerala will become a ‘100 percent renewable energy state’ by 2040 is a realistic target. He said the target could be achieved with a smart use of demand management solutions.  

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