THDC driving India’s energy transition

R K Vishnoi, Chairman & Managing Director, THDC India Ltd

Organisations better equipped with technology have the advantage of taking strategic decisions or having close monitoring of operations, shares R K Vishnoi, Chairman & Managing Director, THDC India Ltd., in an exclusive interaction with Krishna Mishra of Elets News Network (ENN).

Please share insights into the operations of THDC India Ltd.

THDC is the premier organisation in the field of power generation and it has gone through a long journey. We started way back in 1989. Initially it was a single project organisation with the name of Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, we were not only left technically orphaned but also financially stressed as a major chunk of investments had to come from the USSR. The government of the day decided to go ahead with the project and construct a hydro project on its own. Today, Tehri Dam is one of the highest dams in Asia. Constructing it in the 90’s was really a challenge for all of us, as technology was not much advanced at that time.

So, this is how the journey started, and at a very early stage we became hydro-experts, and we maintained this reputation of ours in developing other similar projects.

Later, we realised that the country’s power scenario was changing and we needed to look beyond the hydropower sector. We now have a presence in wind power, having commissioned two projects in the state of Gujarat, as well as solar power and thermal power.

THDC has developed significant competence in the hydropower space as well as project management. We can handle large sized projects as people that work here have competence and excellent project management skills, which gives me this confidence to carry out any major projects.

Taking a big stride in the renewable sector, THDC is going to create 10,000-megawatt solar energy parks in the state of Rajasthan. Please give an overview of the project.

Developing renewable energy projects in the country has become a need, and a commitment of the country. By 2030, almost 60 per cent of the power being generated from all the sources will come from renewable energy sources. If we have to achieve this huge target, then all the big organisations will have to think beyond the conventional means of energy generation.

Solar and wind power plants implemented by THDC India Limited are the projects on the smaller level, and now we have to think about the mega projects, with capacity of 10,000 MW. We have recently started the development of solar parks of 2000 MW capacity in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Rajasthan is the best state as far as solar energy is concerned, as we have started talking with the state government regarding the development of solar parks in the state. Until the state government is a part of the solar energy venture, it is difficult to execute such mega projects. Taking the state government along is our idea.

The most challenging aspect in constructing such mega projects like solar park development is the availability of land. To overcome this major challenge, the state government will be our ray of hope in conquering this huge obstacle.

There is a lot of potential in the field of renewable energy. How is THDC utilising its strength to tap the opportunities?

The country needs to add 350 GW more capacity in the renewable sector in the coming seven to eight years. So, to achieve the target of 350 GW, we have to add at least 50 GW of renewable energy every year.

This is a huge target, and all types of energy must be utilised. So, whether it is solar, renewable, or floating solar electricity, all of these areas must be utilised to reach this aim and make the entire process sustainable. Thus, we are looking forward to bundling different forms of energy, as it is the key.

The most important asset we have is to store electricity. That is where renewable energy development will be supported. So, unless you have the storage capacity connected to the grid, it is very difficult to develop such huge renewable energy.

We are, very shortly, going to commission a 1000 MW storage capacity, where we will be storing electricity coming from renewable energy sources which are intermittent in nature and are highly uncertain.

So, uncertainty has to be arrested and that can happen with storing the electricity. So that is where the idea came to pilot this dimension of the power sector in the entire country, and then go for the development of large-scale storage assets.

We have also started taking up 10 energy storage projects at different sites in the country simultaneously. It is essential to tap large potential of renewable energy, but the developement of renewable energy, in isolation will not help, unless we have matching capacity to store the energy in the form of PSPs.

In your opinion, what is the role of technology to meet India’s growing energy demand? Tell us about the digitisation journey of THDC India Ltd.

Technology is constantly evolving and one has to remain updated all the time because technology upgrades not only save time, but also save the cost. Organisations better equipped with technology have the advantage of taking strategic decisions or have close monitoring of operations.

In THDC, we always give technology a priority, so that all the big operations of the company are fully automated. The data acquisition from all the operations should be on a real time basis, and should be made available to the level which is empowered to take relevant decisions.

We have a system in the organisation where all the data pertaining to construction activities of any project is being fed directly from the project site and work front. The data is processed in a wider form and sent to the people at a higher level in a form they can understand.

We also have a system of Artificial Intelligence, as once we acquire the data, we process it, and then we do the decision making based on the patterns. For example, we have put a flood forecasting network in place, where we are trying to capture the Meteorological data in real time domain to predict the inflow to the reservoir through computer simulation.

This enables us to plan the operations of our projects in the best possible manner and even in the most optimised way. All the IT tools which are available for monitoring purposes, or processing the information are available to fasttrack the construction activities and the operations of the power plant.

Being a public sector unit, sometimes it becomes difficult to adopt new technology, but in THDC, we have always gone ahead and put all of these in place.

What is your vision and action plan for the growth of THDC in the ever-evolving digital era?

There are huge opportunities in the power sector, the only thing you need to have is that you must put all the factors in a place where you can be sustainable in the power sector. You can be sustainable only when you are able to give the best to the consumers and to the distribution companies.

We offer the best price and the best terms, and in order to do that we need to have all sorts of energy which is available, and then try to work around by bundling different forms of energy and offer a particular solution to the end-user in a way which is usable and affordable to the consumer.

We are thinking of developing different kinds of resources in different parts of the country to expand our servings. We have started operations in North-East, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. We have taken up operations in all these states and are trying to have different forms of energies so as to make us flexible enough to offer the best optimised solution in the power sector.