Monsoon revival eases power crisis in Karnataka

July 31st, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Balaji
Bangalore, July 31 (IANS) The sudden revival of the south-west monsoon has eased the power crisis in Karnataka due to decline in consumption and increase in generation from hydroelectric stations, bringing relief to millions of people from hours of load-shedding across the state and blackouts in India’s technology hub. “The south-west monsoon, which began earnestly in June first week and progressed well for over a month, lost momentum from July 6 for over a fortnight due to above normal sea surface temperature over equatorial Indian Ocean between 60 and 100 degrees east,” Karnataka meteorological office director Armugam Muthuchami told IANS.

Another unforeseen factor that played truant with the monsoon was the emergence of an extra tropical westerly wind pushing rain-bearing clouds to north India from south in place of an easterly wind.

“In place of cyclonic circulation in the Indian peninsula, anti-cyclonic circulation prevailed for over two weeks. With the disappearance of the westerly wind, the monsoon has become active again over the southern peninsula,” Muthuchami said.

The met office had predicted in late May a near normal monsoon from June-September this year, raising hopes of people, especially farmers, in averting a water crisis and drought in arid parts of the state.

“We hope the monsoon will remain active over the next two months as evident from the low pressure formation over the Bay of Bengal. Under its influence, wind-speed has increased to 30 nautical miles from 10 nautical miles earlier. If the upper air cyclonic circulation extends up to 5.8 km from surface (above sea level), widespread rains will continue till September,” Muthuchami noted.

Discounting factors such as global warming or climate change influencing rain patterns during the season, the official said any variation or aberration from normal monsoon was bound to occur due to oscillation cycle.

“Karnataka had normal south-west monsoon since 2005 after three-four years of prolonged drought across interior areas and northern region from 2001 to 2004. In normal pattern, oscillation occurs in every four-five year cycle,” the meteorologist observed.

Copious rains across coastal, interior and north Karnataka since July 25-26 have brought down power consumption drastically to 82.5 million units per day from a record 115 million units per day.

“At the same time, heavy and widespread rainfall in catchment areas across Western Ghats has increased storage levels in reservoirs leading to increase in hydel power output,” state-run Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) superintendent engineer H.S. Keshavmurthy said.

“Steady increase in reservoir level at Sharavathi, Varahi and Kalinadhi has enabled us to operate the hydel units at 50-60 percent of the installed capacity.”

Of the installed 5,510-megawatt capacity in the state, hydel units account for about 60 percent (3,322 MW), while thermal, wind and captive units contribute the rest.

Kaiga atomic power plant in coastal Karnataka generates an additional 220 MW. With the three units of the plant operating at 55 percent of the installed capacity due to fuel shortage, the state’s share is miniscule.

“The unrestricted peak demand is about 7,500 MW due to increasing consumption by agriculture, industry and domestic sectors,” Keshavmurthy said. “The average consumption has shot up to 120 million units per day this summer from 99 million units per day over the same period last year, registering an increase of about 20 percent. Bangalore alone accounts for 35 percent of the total consumption.

“During rainy, autumn and winter seasons, agriculture and domestic sectors consume less, while demand from industries keeps increasing.”

To meet the growing demand, the state has drawn an ambitious plan to generate an additional 5,000 MW over the next five years, 1,000 MW per year.

“The commissioning of the 500 MW Bellary thermal power station at Kudithini in north Karnataka and early completion of two additional hydel units of 115 MW each at Varahi will enable us to increase the output by 830 MW,” added Keshavmurthy. “Plans are underway to build the eighth unit of Raichur thermal power plant to add another 250 MW to the state grid.”

Under the 11th plan (2007-2012), KPCL plans to generate an additional 1,525 MW from hydel, thermal and wind sources. By drawing additional power from the private sector and central utilities, the state plans to tide over the power crisis and meet the increasing energy demand.

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