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Poor southwest monsoon lowers wind, hydro power generation in Tamil Nadu

According to reports, the delay in the onset of southwest monsoon has not only affected the production of wind energy but also power production which has reduced drastically in the last two days, from 75 million units per day to just 16 million units on July17. Consequently, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) has appealed to the people on Tuesday to bear unscheduled power cuts in the coming days.

The situation has further worsened due to the sharp decline in wind power production coupled with poor hydro power generation this year. TANGEDCO benefited largely from the power generated by windmills to meet the growing energy demands in the state. Windmills generate the most energy during the Southwest monsoon, between the months of May and October.

K Kasturirangan, Chairman, Indian Wind Power Association, said that there had been a similar situation in the past when wind was minimal and officials where concerned about the sudden dip in wind speed. “During the year 2008 and 2010, there was a similar situation when wind was feeble. However, the situation was back to normal two days later,” he said. Windmills produce the most energy when wind velocity is between 8 and 14 meters per minute, while during lean days, when velocity is between 3 and 7 meters, they produce minimum energy, he said.

Kasturirangan said that wind energy remains the biggest contributor to the overall power requirement in the state. It contributes nearly 3500 MW of energy to the total requirement of 11,000 MW of energy for the state. TANGEDCO has utilised windmills to a record capacity, harnessing 33 percent of the power generated through it this year.

The TANGEDCO would have been better prepared to meet demand if they had planned properly and consulted experts for accurate weather forecasts, said Kasturirangan. They should have done this as soon as they were aware of reports suggesting a poor southwest monsoon. The prediction would have helped the TANGEDCO to purchase or arrange power from exchanges to meet fluctuating requirement, he added. However on Tuesday, the winds generated just 15.973million units, against the total windmill capacity of 3500MW. The windmills during the same day in 2011 produced about 55 million units of wind power.

The situation is much worse as far as production of hydropower is concerned, which has put TANGEDCO in the dock again. They received just 6.345 million units of power, as the poor monsoon reduced the water level in the dams. The same hydropower stations were able to produce 12 million units during the same day in 2011.

A Thangavelu, Chief Engineer, Coimbatore region, said that there may be unscheduled power cuts and even total power cuts as the wind has suddenly dropped. On Wednesday, the situation was slightly better and 2300 MW was generated. Due to poor rain the dams also do not have the capacity to generate power. Since most are for irrigation purposes, there is not enough water to produce power through hydropower stations, he said.

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