Hydel power plants in Karnataka to be idle following weak monsoon

A file photo of Supa dam in Joida taluk of Uttara Kannada district. Supa dam is one of the three major hydel power generating dams in Karnataka.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A weak southwest monsoon has led to low water levels in reservoirs this year, in turn impacting power generation in hydel dams.

The cumulative water storage in three major hydel dams is only 43.75% of their capacity, forcing Karnataka Power Corporation Limited to go for thermal energy and conserve the available water for the coming summer. In 2022, the State received good rains. During the corresponding period last year, the three major hydel reservoirs recorded a cumulative storage of 77.88%.

Linganamakki dam, Supa dam and Mani dam are the three major hydel reservoirs for energy production in Karnataka. As on October 21, the total storage available was sufficient to generate 3,997 MU (million units) of power. This is against 7,050 MU on this day last year.

Data on major hydel power dams in Karnataka (2022 in brackets)

DamCapacity (m)Storage (m)Gross storage (TMC)Storage (TMC)Energy content (MU)
Linganamakki18191786 (1814)15666.84 (135.34)2006 (4065)
Supa564545.05 (553.85)147.5375.93 (104.99)1651 (2283)
Mani594.36 580.96 (589.56)33.9610.89 (22.48)340 (703)

m = metre | TMC = thousand million cubic feet | MU = million units

People complaining of power cuts

There have been complaints of frequent power cuts across Karnataka. Farmers have hit the streets demanding power supply, as they are finding it difficult to safeguard standing crops due to scanty rainfall. Due to the drought, the demand for power has increased.

At the same time, power generation has suffered. As of now, the demand is around 15,000 MW to 16,000 MW, up from 9,000 MW to 10,000 MW last year. 

The Sharavathi Valley Project, which has four power-generating stations with a total capacity of 1,469 MW, is one of the major sources of electricity for Karnataka. As on October 21the water in the dam was only 66.80 TMC, which is 44.02% of the total capacity. With the available storage, 2,006 MU can be generated.

Outlook for next 150 days

“We can generate power approximately for next 150 days with the available storage,” said Uday Nayak, Chief Engineer (Operation and Maintenance), KPCL.

Last year on this day, there was sufficient storage to generate 4,065 MU. The water level reached its maximum level in the dam four times last year. The previous occasion it was full was in 2019-20.

The water storage at Supa dam (Kali Valley project) and Mani dam (Varahi Valley project) has also come down.

With the available storage, only 1,651 MU can be generated in Supa dam. Last year, the dam was filled to 72.25% of capacity, and the storage was sufficient to generate 2,283 MU.

In Mani, the water level is only 34.98% of the dam’s capacity. The present storage is sufficient to generate 340 MU. Last year, this time, the water level was 72.22% of capacity, and 703 MU could be generated with the available storage.

Conserving water for coming summer

The KPCL has decided to conserve water in the dams for generation in summer. 

M.C. Divakar, Director (Technical) of Karnataka Power Corporation Limited, told The Hindu, “Considering the water level in the dams, the generation was being managed, keeping in mind demand in the coming days. We are going for thermal energy rather than hydel, as of now. We are conserving water for the coming summer, which is the time when students face examinations.”

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