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CEA fast-tracks pumped storage project’s approval mechanism

June 13, 2023 6:34 pm

CEA fast-tracks pumped storage project’s approval mechanism

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) recently approved the Upper Sileru Pumped Storage Project (PSP) of 1350 MW, which is being developed at Sileru, Alluri Sitharama Raju district of Andhra Pradesh, by APGENCO (a government of Andhra Pradesh undertaking) in a record time of 70 days, in contrast to the stipulated timeline of 90 days.

The government has recently taken a number of initiatives to guarantee that Pumped Storage Projects (PSPs) are completed as swiftly as possible, thereby speeding the increase of India’s renewable energy potential.

A revamped process for approval of pumped storage capacity

The Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Power, Government of India, recently overhauled the process for concurrence of Detailed Project Report (DPR) of these projects to expedite the process of concurrence of Hydro PSPs.

Single Window Clearance, Nodal Officers of CWC and GSI

The CEA has built a single window clearance cell for this purpose. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has designated nodal officers to accelerate the clearance of design aspects. It has also appointed extra units to examine design components of DPRs in order to accelerate clearances. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has appointed nodal officers to fast-track the clearance of geological elements of DPRs, and the CEA has requested the GSI involve its subordinate and field offices in states to expedite the clearances even further.

Speeding up environmental clearances

The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has decided to appraise off-stream closed loop PSPs with particular Terms of Reference (ToRs) due to the ongoing work of CEA and the Ministry of Power. MoEF&CC has also informed us that PSPs (on existing reservoirs) will be appraised in the B2 category (where no environmental impact assessment is required), subject to specific restrictions. These considerations will significantly reduce the time it takes for these PSPs to obtain environmental clearance.

Compressed Timelines for Approval of DPRs

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The CEA has also published revised Guidelines for Formulation and Concurrence of DPRs of PSPs.

Under the revised guidelines, the timeline for concurrence of DPR for the following PSPs has been reduced from 90 days to 50 days:

PSPs awarded under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003 (determination of tariff by bidding process). PSPs are part of integrated renewable energy projects that contain other RE sources such as wind energy, solar energy, etc. PSPs are being developed as captive plants or merchant plants.

The timeline for concurrence of DPRs from other PSPs has been reduced from 125 days to 90 days.

The identified potential of PSPs in the country is about 119 GW (comprising 109 PSPs). Out of this, 8 projects (4.7 GW) are under operation, 4 projects (2.8 GW) are under construction, CEA has given concurrence for 2 projects (2.3 GW), and construction of these two projects is slated to start shortly.
Further, 33 projects (42 GW) are under survey and investigation for the preparation of DPRs. Out of these 33 projects, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has already given terms of reference to 22 projects.

The Importance of Pumped Storage Systems for India’s Energy Future

Hydro-pumped storage Projects are required to meet India’s commitment of 500 GW of installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. PSPs will aid in the integration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid. It will enable the supply of dispatchable RE power and aid in achieving the grid’s peak requirements.

In recognition of its role, 39 Hydro PSPs totaling 47 GW are being pursued for completion by 2029–2030.

The Pumped Storage System uses surplus grid power from thermal power stations or other sources to pump water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir and reproduces power during peak demand when power is scarce.

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