New Delhi: The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has fast-tracked the concurrence process for hydro Pumped Storage Projects (PSPs) by introducing a single-window clearance cell in order to expedite the commissioning of these energy storage projects which India has recently started pursuing with great seriousness. "To accelerate the concurrence process for Hydro PSPs, the Central Electricity Authority, under the Ministry of Power, Government of India, has recently revamped the approval process for Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of these projects, said a statement on Thursday.
In a recent development, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) granted concurrence to the Upper Sileru Pumped Storage Project (PSP), a 1,350 MW venture being developed by APGENCO (a Government of Andhra Pradesh Undertaking) in Sileru, Alluri Sitharama Raju district of Andhra Pradesh. Remarkably, the concurrence was provided within a record time of 70 days, surpassing the stipulated timeline of 90 days, said the Power Ministry.
The government has taken significant measures to expedite the commissioning of PSPs to facilitate the growth of the country's renewable energy (RE) capacity.
Firstly, the CEA has established a Single Window Clearance Cell dedicated to expediting the concurrence process. Secondly, the Central Water Commission (CWC) has appointed nodal officers to fast-track the clearance of design aspects. The CWC has also formed additional groups to examine the design aspects of DPRs, further expediting the clearance process. Thirdly, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has nominated nodal officers to accelerate the clearance of geological aspects of DPRs. Additionally, the CEA has requested the involvement of GSI's subordinate and field offices in states to enhance the efficiency of clearances.
Through continuous efforts by the CEA and the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has agreed to appraise Off Stream Closed Loop PSPs with specific Terms of Reference (ToRs), said the statement. The MoEF&CC has also notified the appraisal of PSPs on existing reservoirs under the B2 category, which eliminates the need for Environmental Impact Assessment, subject to certain conditions. These measures will significantly reduce the time required to obtain Environmental Clearance for these PSPs, it added.
The CEA has also released revised Guidelines for Formulation and Concurrence of DPRs of PSPs, said the statement.
The statement also said that under the revised guidelines, the timeline for concurrence of DPRs for the following PSPs has been reduced from 90 days to 50 days for the following categories:
PSPs awarded under section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003 (determined through bidding process)
PSPs that are part of Integrated Renewable Energy Projects, including other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy
PSPs developed as captive plants or merchant plants
The timeline for concurrence of DPRs for other PSPs has been reduced from 125 days to 90 days, it added.
India has identified a potential capacity of 119 GW from Pumped Storage Projects, comprising 109 PSPs. Presently, eight projects (4.7 GW) are operational, while four projects (2.8 GW) are under construction. The CEA has granted concurrence for two projects (2.3 GW), and construction for these projects is set to commence soon. Furthermore, 33 projects (42 GW) are currently under Survey and Investigation for DPR preparation. Among these 33 projects, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has already provided Terms of Reference for 22 projects, said the statement.
Hydro Pumped Storage Projects are necessary to achieve the government's target of 500 GW installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030 and Net Zero carbon emissions by the year 2070, said the statement. PSPs will help integrate intermittent Renewable Energy with the Grid. It will enable supply of dispatchable RE power and help in meeting the peaking requirement of the Grid, it added.
In recognition of its role, 39 Hydro PSPs of 47 GW are to be commissioned by the year 2029-30, said the statement. Pumped Storage System utilises surplus grid power available from thermal power stations or other sources to pump up water from the lower to the upper reservoir and reproduces power during peak demand when there is a scarcity of power, it added.