Koyna comissions low-cost power capacity

Deep in the heart of the Sahyadri range, 350 km south of Mumbai, at Alore near Koynanagar, a giant engineering feat has been achieved. The first of the 4 x 250 mw units of stage 4 of the Koyna Hydro Electric Project was commissioned in early October, while test spinning of the second unit was also carried out.

When all the four units become operative – by March 2000 – the project will be one of cheapest power projects in the country. At an estimated investment of Rs 1,200 crore (with World Bank funding to the tune of $230 million) for the 1,000 MW power project, it works to an unbelievable Rs 1.2 crore per megawatt of capacity. The norm for new thermal power plants exceeds Rs 4 crore per megawatt of capacity.

A friendly topography used to the best advantage by human ingenuity and engineering skills has contributed to the low cost.  The other factor was the huge saving on building a dam -- a dam already existed, for th eearlier stages of the project.   Click here for details.

On completion, the Koyna project will contribute 1,920 MW of capacity into the state grid, accounting for a 20 per cent share of hydro-electric power in the state. The first three stages of the project already contribute 920 MW.

The fourth stage of the project has been envisaged and designed as a peak load station. But once the plant becomes fully operational, the entire complex will be converted to handle the peak load demand of the entire western region, including Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. At present, thermal stations are used for the purpose.

"Thermal plants operate inefficiently if they are used to cater to peak load demands, and then at lower loads during off-peak hours. It also shortens the life of the plants. Using hydel power for peak loads will ensure better load factors at thermal stations," explains Srikant Huddar, chief engineer in the irrigation department of government of Maharashtra.