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This article examines the following – the Early history of the Purulia Pumped Storage Projects that is/will-be devastating Ayodhya Hills ecosystem and society;The Faulty Environmental Impact Assessments and the Actual Devastating Impacts happened so far; the Alternative Technologies available and their possible loads; Some Conclusions including request to the students of GIS-RS, the Cultural and Historical Value of the Ayodhya Hills and areas adjacent; and at last, this article issues an appeal. There is also a postscript regarding ideas behind development of power storage systems.

Early History of the Purulia Pumped Power Storage Projects

The Purulia Pumped Storage Projects did not suddenly start cropping up in this century. There is a short history and it is instructive from different angles as we shall see later in this article.

A very senior engineer of the consultant firm DCPL co-authored a paper presented in a discussion in the USA on 2014. There he informed, “In the year 1979, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Government of India (GoI), initiated the scheme of Purulia Pumped Storage Hydel by way of preparing an assessment report. This was followed up West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB), thru’ conducting a reconnaissance survey and preparing a project profile, based on four streams/ nullah on Ayodhya Hills in Purulia Dist. of W. Bengal State – Kistobazar, Turga, Kathlajal, and Bandhunala.” Subsequently DCPL was commissioned to prepare a first-round report (in association with another firm in the USA). DCPL was asked to submit that by January 1980 for submission to central govt for funding. In 1982 DCPL was instructed to make geotechnical, hydrological etc study and state irrigation dept supplemented hydrological study in 1982. But things got paused for paucity of funds (“The project had been held up for several years in want of fund and decisions for investment.”) [[1]]

A little different observationis there in a report from a govt organisation. “… potentials were also identified by the Survey and Investigation wing of WBSEDCL for development of Pumped Storage Project in south Bengal. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in 1979 identified a possible site of Pumped Storage Project on BanduNala in Ayodhya hills under district Purulia, West Bengal. Subsequently, the investigations were made by the Engineers of Survey and Investigation Wing of West Bengal State Electricity Board, now WBSEDCL and identified another three more Pumped Storage Project in the same hills.A preliminary study of the schemes shows that all the above schemes are techno-commercially feasible. The other three schemes were:

  1. i) Kistobazarnala Pumped Storage Scheme (900 MW)
  2. ii) Turganala Pumped Storage Scheme (600 MW)

iii) Kathlajalnala Pumped Storage Scheme (900 MW)

Out of the above four schemes, the Kistobazarnala Pumped Storage Scheme, renamed as Purulia Pumped Storage Scheme was got the first priority and the project was taken up for execution by the West Bengal State Electricity Board (now West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited) with the financial assistance of JICA (earlier OECF and JBIC), Japan. The project was completed in 2008 and now under commercial operation.” [[2]]

Picture 1: KistobazarNala Pumped Storage Project or the PPSP and the Turga Falls where the second pumped storage is planned.

Picture 1: The likely location of the Bandu Pumped Storage Project of the third project is shown from the declared geo-information and where its location with respect to the PPSP

Let us now see another account. I.M. Sahai wrote an article in Waterpower Magazine on Feb 2003, where he told, “In 1979, WBSEB identified four sites for pumped storage plants, all in one particular area in the state – Ayodhya hills in the Purulia district. Of these, Purulia pumped storage plant was taken up for development first. The other three sites were at Turga, Kathlajal, and Badhunala.

The 900MW Purulia project was sanctioned in February 1994, with a loan agreement signed by WBSEB with Japan’s OECF, signed in February 1995. WBSEB appointed two consultants in October 1995 for the detailed design, tendering, and construction supervision of the project. These were Electric Power Development Co (EPDC) of Japan as the overseas consultant, and Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) of India as the local consultant.” [[3]]

In the last century there was other mentions of this project in govt literatures. For example, in the Lok Sabha debates in 1992, some questions were answered written, and in the list of the written answers this project found a place:

“West Bengal

  1. Bakreshwar Water Supply project.
  2. Purlia Pumped Storage Scheme.
  3. Alloy Steel Plant, SAIL
  4. Indian Iron & Steel Co. Burnpur”

[[4]], hope the readers will not mind this sample of little careless record keeping at parliament!

Then, in a report of “Compensatory Afforestation Fund management and Planning Authority” we find a proposal with proposal number FP/WB/HYD/441/1999, proposal name “900 MW PURULIA PUMPEDSTORAGE PROJ BY WBSEB” and proposal status was mentioned as “20-Dec-99 APPROVED”.[[5]]

Later, we shall see in a JUCA report, “…Environmental clearances were received from the central government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests in October 1993, February 2002, and February 2003, and forest clearances were received in October 1995, February 2002, and January 2003.” [[6]]

Devastation that we are witnessing at Ajodhya Hills in Purulia from the beginning of this century, and we shall see more as the projects take shape one by one if those cannot be resisted, are all designed during a period of several years starting from 1979. It will perhaps be worthwhile to find out who were the electricity (or power) ministers, forest (and environment) ministers, chief ministers of West Bengal of those fateful years (1979 – 1999) who envisioned such a venture and set it rolling, and also who were the electricity (or power) ministers, forest (and environment) ministers, prime ministers of government of India who actively aided this project. The thrust that was set at that time is running towards realisation, and for this, unsound ‘reasons’were created later by the government authorities and surprisingly, also by the concerned Japanese investment agency.

Faulty Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and Clearance – 1

In a 2006 short publication of JICA titled ‘Ex-ante Evaluation’ [[7]] we find many interesting info. Here are some excerpts:

“1. Name of the Project

Country: India

Project: Purulia Pumped Storage Project (III)

(Loan Agreement: 03/31/2006; Loan Amount: 17,963 million yen; Borrower: The President of India”

“(4) Schedule

July 1994 – December 2008 (174 months)

This loan is for the final phase of this project, and the four generating units are scheduled to begin operation in turn between March 2007 and December 2007.”

For this project, the “OECF Guidelines for Environmental Considerations” (first edition) are applied. (Furthermore, this project is classified as Category A under the “Japan Bank for International Cooperation Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations” (established April 2002) because it is in the hydroelectric power sector and is in a region that is susceptible to impact.)

(iii) Environmental Permit

An environmental assessment report was prepared by the executing agency in September 1992. Environmental clearances were received from the central government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests in October 1993, February 2002, and February 2003, and forest clearances were received in October 1995, February 2002, and January 2003.”

Moreover, there are such declarations: “(iv) Anti-Pollution Measures

No particular negative impact on the water quality in the lower river basin is expected because the water storage time is short, and sedimentation is held in the irrigation pond directly below the lower dam.

(v) Natural Environment

This project is likely to have minimal adverse impact on the natural environment because the project area is not considered an important habitat for protected species, etc., and appropriate measures are being taken, including improvement of vegetation cover in the adjacent forest and provision of movement corridors for animals between the upper and the lower dams. Also, there is very little likelihood of habitation by fish that swim upstream.

Moreover, afforestation is planned in non-forest areas with an area that is larger than the forest area acquired for this project, and in addition, there is construction of an erosion-prevention dam, implementation of afforestation and grass planting as necessary on land owned by residents and forest land, and construction of drinking holes for wild animals.

(vi) Social Environment

The necessary land acquisition for this project has been completed and totals approximately 442 ha, including 373 ha of forest land, 41 ha of private land, and 28 ha of state government land. This project will not involve any involuntary resettlement.

(vii) Other/Monitoring

The executing agency will conduct activities for environmental conservation and improvement, including afforestation and grass planting in the surrounding area and building of erosion-prevention dams, and will monitor the water quality and sand accumulation in the upper and lower dams.

(b) Promotion of Poverty Reduction

None

(c) Promotion of Social Development (e.g. Gender Perspective)

As part of its contribution to society in the project area, the executing agency will offer the 132-kV substation and transmission lines, used for construction of this project, for general use. Through this, it will be possible to provide electricity to un-electrified households including the poor in the Purulia District where the project is located, in conjunction with central government’s and the West Bengal government’s rural electrification support plan.”

By the way, the reference ofabovementioned “OECF Guidelines for Environmental Considerations (first edition)” could be located at ‘History of JICA, Data and Information’[[8]]but only this much: “November 1989 OECF Guidelines forEnvironmental Considerations is published.” However,that publication itself could not be found. In lieu of that we could obtain another publication by Govt. of Japan which has some reference of that OECF Guidelines: ‘Environmental Impact Assessment forInternational Cooperation’ published on March 2000 [[9]]. There, at page 7, we find, “In 1989, the OECF, the forerunner or JBIC, published the “OECF Environmental Guidelines for ODA Loans”. These guidelines were revised in 1995 and the second edition has been in use since 1997. The OECF merged with the Export-Import Bank of Japan on 1st October 1999 and reborn as the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC). JBIC have decided to draft new environment guidelines. (See Clause 5.3 and Reference Appendix 5)”

But what is there at Clause 5.3 and Appendix 5?

Clause 5.3 dictates that ‘responsible actions’ like consulting public, implementing counter measures and etc. are to be taken by the recipient country. And Appendix 5, among many other things, tells us,“(1) In the case of Category A projects, the recipient country is required to submit the EIA Report to the JBIC following completion of the requisite procedures in that country.

(2) It is desirable that the contents of the EIA Report submitted in accordance with (1) above be made available to the public in the recipient country.”

However, what JICA mentioned above as ‘An environmental assessment report was prepared by the executing agency in September 1992’ – that EIA report could not be found in public domain. And we shall see the what the ‘counter measures’ were really taken. And we shall have to see how honest the environmental appraisals wereas presented in the ‘Ex-ante Evaluation’some of what we cited above.

The Impacts that Actually Happened – Purulia PPSP – I

The impacts were measured by two scientists who published their account in 2010.Abhisek Chakrabarty, Dept. of Remote Sensing & GIS, and Soumendu Chatterjee, Dept. of Geography & Environmental Management, both of Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, W.B. India (Soumendu Chatterjee is presently Professor, Presidency University) published their paper “Geoinformatics in Environmental Cost Assessment of Purulia Pumped Storage Project, West Bengal” in Indian Journal of Geography and Environment, Volume 11: 2010[[10]].This is a very enlightening study and we need to read at least some excerpts from this study. The authors selected appropriate remote sensing satellite-data and analysed GIS layers. They also conducted related socio-economic study in detail. They informed readers in the abstract that: “This study attempts to find out the spatial extent and magnitude of these environmental impacts with their monetary values and compare itwiththebenefitofthe project. To accomplish these targets a multi-temporal image analysis withan IRS-LISS-Ill data (GCR-23.5m) of 1999 and an IRS-LISS-IVMX data(GCR-5.8m) of 2005 is done and a change detection map is prepared to demarcate the aerialextentof land degradation. Cadastral map overlay onthe change detection mapclearly shows – which forest lands and private ownership lands are acquired by this project and which are simply damaged. Overlaid GISlayers of different impact buffer zones on population density mapreveal the actual number of population directly affected bythis project! Once the spatial measurements of environmental impacts are over, monetary valuations of all those impacts and cost benefit analysis of the total project are done.”

Though the very last line of their study, the last sentence of their conclusion was, “Still considering the ever-growing need of electricity instead of only criticizing the project we must try to find out the mitigation measures to reduce these adverse environmental impacts.” — they did their impact analysis very fairly and rigorously — their Conclusion paragraph states: “From the above analysis it may be concluded that if we consider only the tangible annual cost (Rs.7642.3367 million) and claimed benefit (Rs.8371.12 million) of the project, the project appears be economically viable and profit making too. An annual profit of Rs.728.8 million is observed. But when we add the environmental costs and benefits with the tangible one, the total annual cost of the project goes to 58195.8 million rupees, whereas total annual benefit remains 8727.12 million rupees with a deficit of 49468.7 million rupees per year. Thus in an economist’s point ofview this project is viable but to an environmentalist it is a destructive one. Still considering the ever-growing need of electricity instead of only criticizing the project we must try to find out the mitigation measures to reduce these adverse environmental impacts.”Therefore, the nett loss of nature and humans, if monetised at 2005-2010 prices, was nearly Rs 500 crores annually.

Let us see some more points from the study:

From the raster attributes of the classified images and change detection map (Fig2A), areas under the six main categories of land use classes for 1999 and 2005, shows that before the commencement of major project work (forest clearance and dam construction started in the year 2000) there were 93.8 kilometre squareof dense forest which is reduced to 85.8 kilometre squareby Jan, 2005.

From the forest density study (43 trees / 100 metre square.) we have calculated that total 3,436,246 trees were cleared from 7.99127 kilometre squareof land and the annual cost of habitat loss for forest animals and birds (Wild Pig, Barking Deer, Hare, Langur, Squirrel, Jungle fowl, Gray Partridge etc.) estimated to be 10 million rupees. Thus the total cost of deforestation is found to be 47859.41 million rupees per year.

Natural corridor of migratory animals from Saranda (Jharkhand) to Ajodhya hills is blocked by the construction of dams. Without having access to forest resources, migratory elephants are destroying nearby villages and agricultural resources, costing 2 million rupees per year (Table-2). [Remember – the JICA ‘Ex-ante’ study said: This project is likely to have minimal adverse impact on the natural environment because the project area is not considered an important habitat for protected species, etc., and appropriate measures are being taken, including improvement of vegetation cover in the adjacent forest and provision of movement corridors for animals between the upper and the lower dams.]

Deforestation and forestland acquisition resulted in area contraction for fuelwood (dry branches of Sal, Pial, Kusum, Ashon, Palash etc.) collection and total 898 households of 16 villages are losing 12.57 million rupees annually. Minor forest products (Mahua -flower, honey, fruits, Lac, Wild Yams, Seeds of Sal, Kendu leaf and Sal leaf) collection also affected.

Area for pasture (128.11hectares) and number of cattle (Cow, Goat, Buffalo, Sheep etc.) per household also lowered down.

In downstream areas, agricultural lands are altered to fallow because of stream impoundment and water pollution. At present Kestobazar River is draining its entire water to fill-up the upper reservoir of PPSP. No water is released to the irrigation dam of Kestobazar Irrigation Project (KIP) and the nearby cement-mixing plant is also polluting the existing water ofKIP, and 0.84 kilometre squarecontaminated agricultural lands converted to wet valleys. Intense use of surface water in the construction site caused the alteration of2.34 kilometre squareagricultural land to dry fallow.

Agricultural productivity of additional 11.73 kilometre square(Table-I) of multi-crop land is also declined because of the above impacts. 2250 households in the downstream agricultural lands are affected by the scarcity of irrigation water in Rabi season.

Obstruction in fishing (e.g. Puntius Ticto, P. Chola, P. Conchonius, NemacheilusJonatus, LepidocephalusGuntea etc.) in Kestobazar River and KIP reservoir causing an annual loss of 27000 rupees for 18 fisherman families (Table-2).

The authors also gave detail of different pollutions and degradations that happened during the project. For example: # Dry dusts of the roads, dust from crushing stones and emission from heavy vehicles are creating air pollution. Almost 14630 people of 21 mauzas (Table-I) are under its impact and could suffer from Respiratory Illness, Asthma, Heart disease, Cataract, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Lung Cancer and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome in future. #The project sites are the victim of sound pollution, which could cause Hypertension, High blood pressure, Sleep depravity, Headaches, Ulcers, Heart disease and Low birth weights, and the treatment cost may be another 650.3 million rupees/year (Table-2). # Air pollution also affecting Lac cultivation. Sal, Pial, Kusum, Ashon, Palash trees (67.29 kilometre square) near the lower dam ofPPSP were the breeding zone of Lac (Lakhha). Dust particles in the air causing the death of Lac larva and Lac (Lakhha) production is adversely affected.

How can one keep silent about all these irreparable damages after going through this paper! And the governments concerned must answer how far those impacts and losses of the project work of 2002-2008 and consequences to the project were mitigated. Where are the answers from JICA, Govt. of India and Govt. of West Bengal? Yes, there is one way to challenge and refute this study – conduct a RS-GIS study yourself, do the necessary detail socio-economic study of changes happened in between, say, 1999 and 2009, and place the results to the public.

But before we go to the next section: “Faulty Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and Clearance – 2” dealing with the next phase of the grand projects of chaining Ayodhya hill streamswe need to expose another misconception:

Can Pumped Storage Projects at all be categorised as Hydroelectric Power Projects?

In many places in the literatures of our electrical authorities and JICA we find thatPumped Storage projects are mentioned as hydropower or hydroelectric power projects. Is it fair, as far as nomenclature of technologies are concerned?

(i) Ex-ante Evaluation

For this project, the “OECF Guidelines for Environmental Considerations” (first edition) are applied. (Furthermore, this project is classified as Category A under the “Japan Bank for International Cooperation Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations” (established April 2002) because it is in the hydroelectric power sector and is in a region that is susceptible to impact.)[[11]]

(ii) Turga Pumped Storage Project Preparatory Study in India, Draft Final Report March 2018

4.2.1 West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd.

(1) Operation plan

The existing hydropower plants of WBSEDCL are as follows.

1) Purulia Pumped Storage Project 4 × 225 MW (900 MW)…           [[12]]

(iii) West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited

Bandu Pumped Storage Project (4×225 MW)

1.2. Project Background

The state of West Bengal has unique feature with Himalayas in the North and the Bay of Bengal in the South, offering huge Hydro Electric potential. The Hydro Power development in West Bengal is, however, not spectacular. The total installed capacityis about 1417 MW as against a potential of 1786 MW of conventional Hydro Power and about 4800 MW of Pumped Storage Hydro Power. The Power scenario in the state is now adversely placed with a Hydro: Thermal mix nearly 13.89:86.11 (January 2018) as against a minimum desired ratio of 40:60.

The Survey and Investigation circle of West Bengal State Electricity Board now renamed as West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL), has investigated a number of hydroelectric project through their offices at Kurseongsince 1967 and at Siliguri since 1988. Project like Jaldhaka hydro-electric projects Stage-I and stage-II with an installation capacity of 45MW(4×9+2×4), Rammam Hydro Electric Project Stage-II with 51MW(4×12.75), Teesta Canal Fall Hydro Electric projects with 67.50MW(3x3x7.50) and MongpooKalikhola Hydel Project with3MW(3×1) are all run-of-the-river Projects planned and completed by the Hydro wing of WBSEDCL. In spite of that, potentials were also identified by the Survey and Investigation wing of WBSEDCL for development of Pumped Storage Project in south Bengal. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in 1979 identified a possible site of Pumped Storage Project on BanduNala in Ayodhya hills under district Purulia, West Bengal. Subsequently, the investigations were made by the Engineers of Survey andInvestigation Wing of West Bengal State Electricity Board, now WBSEDCL and identified another three more Pumped Storage Project in the same hills. A preliminary study of the schemes shows that all the above schemes are techno-commercially

feasible. The other three schemes were:

  1. i) Kistobazarnala Pumped Storage Scheme (900 MW)
  2. ii) Turganala Pumped Storage Scheme (600 MW)

iii) Kathlajalnala Pumped Storage Scheme (900 MW)

Out of the above four schemes, the Kistobazarnala Pumped Storage Scheme, renamed as Purulia Pumped Storage Scheme was got the first priority …The project was completed in 2008 and now under commercial operation. [[13]]

(iv) Subject: Minutes of the meeting regarding operationalization of existing pump storage plants (PSPs) and related issues held in New Delhi (at NRPC) on 28-06-2017– reg. No. CEA/Plg/RES-30/2017 Dated: 17-07-2017

Background of Setting Up Purulia Pumped Storage Project (PPSP):

The State of West Bengal and the Eastern Region is having predominantly thermal power generation and it faces a serious system stabilization problem.

In order to achieve a better hydro thermal generation mix and more efficient electrical energy management in the region, development of such Pumped Storage Scheme was undertaken and finally PPSP is now under operational condition.[[14]]

(v) Ministry of Power, Hydro Power Forty Third Report – January 2019

LIST OF HYDRO STATIONS (ABOVE 25 MW CAPACITY)

PSP No-of-Stations Units power-per-unit River-basin District Capacity MW Completion
PURULIA 1 4 (4X225) SUBARNAREKHA PURULIA 900.00 2007

 

And do not get surprised to see the name: Subarnarekha Pumped Power Storage Project in lieu of Ayodhya Hills PPSP in some govt. literature![[15]]

Perhaps we do not need to cite anymore examples of Indian and Japanese authorities citing Pumped Power Storage Projects as Hydroelectric Projects.

But Pumped Power Storage Projects are not hydroelectric projects – it is actually a mechanism of power storage (i) by pumping water up, that is done by expenditure of electrical energy, when electricity is there at excess, and then, (ii) releasing the pumped up water to flow at lower level to produce electricity, when electricity is scarce and needed — and the efficiency of such systems (combination of two cycles – energy expenditure and production) are usually 70-75%.

So, for 1 MW of “hydroelectric energy” you get from a Pumped Power Storage Project, you spend 1.33 MW –1.43 MW of usuallythermal (coal burning) electricity!Even if the efficiency is as high as 80% then also for a MW 1.25MW is spent.

Faulty Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and Clearance– 2

Now let us pass to the newer phase of the project, or the upcoming phase, that is to be implemented at Turga (or Thurga) nala and what JICA tells about this.

Although consideration of ‘Alternatives’ including what if the project is not done and also other geographical, technological, etc. alternatives is said to be following the ‘best practice’ tradition of EIA (environmental impact assessment) procedures since late 1980s in the developed world JICA and governments of India and WB were silent regarding that in the first phase of the Purulia Pumped Storage Project. At least this time, JICA is talking about ‘alternatives’. JICA said, in its March 2018 Final Report on the second phase of the project, that is on Turganala, “It is anticipated a large volume of energy from renewable sources in the near future leading to the phases a large volume of low cost of energy coming into the grid. However, well known difficulties are to control and maintain the stable power system at the time of large scale renewable energy integration to the grid which by nature is very rapidly fluctuating and hard to anticipate. One viable solution for this is power storage. There are several ways to store power as pumped storage plants, Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES), or Lithium-Ion Batteries, but only market competitive feasible storage system in West Bengal now is only pumped storage power plants. Alternative means of power generation meeting to the rapid ramp up/down of renewable power generations could be a gas power generation. But in West Bengal there is no gas power plant now and no such projects exist reflecting scarce potential of natural gas resources.”[[16]]

Leaving aside all other questionable parts of the study let us concentrate only on this ‘alternative’ part which is actually in a way telling us ‘there is no alternative’ to this pumped storage project. And these considerations of alternatives as told by JICA are very questionable to say the least. Let us see.

Alternatives: Energy Storage Technologies (Large Scale) Available Today

We shall have to see some glimpses of some research papers and review studies in this field. But before that let us look at a very well-known and impressive example that took place in 2017, that is, a year before JICA wrote the above.

Perhaps all of us heard that Elon Mask of Tesla made a bet in 2017 that he could make a 100MW Li-Ion Battery in just 100 days and if he could not do it, he would lose a $50 million bet. It was for a wind-firm in South Australia. His company got the order and supplied the battery in less than 100 days. The Guardian later published a report of that battery operation:

“South Australia’s Tesla battery on track to make back a third of cost in a year. Calla Wahlquist, Thu 27 Sep 2018

The Tesla lithium-ion battery in South Australia is on track to make back a third of its construction costs in its first year of operation, new financial documents show.

The 100MW/129MWh battery was switched on in November and is paired with the Hornsdale windfarm, about 230km north of Adelaide.

A 400-page document filed in support of the application shows the battery, which is the largest lithium-ion battery in the world, had a capital cost of €56m or A$90.6m and generated €8.1m, or A$13.1m, in revenue from network services in the six months to 30 June 2018.”[[17]]

Now what is equivalent to that capital cost of A$90.6m? According to the average mid-2017 exchange rate 1 Australian $was ≡ INR ₹49.65.[[18]] So, the total capital cost comes to INR ₹4498.25 million or less than 450 crores. That is for 100MW capacity. For 1000 MW as far we can estimate roughly, the cost would likely be less than INR ₹4500 crores. And JICA project is costing us INR ₹6922 crores! [Read footnote[[19]],and for that project a Japanese loan of Rs 5000 crores was sanctioned by JICA.] Were we fooled! And how much land was required for that 100 MW tesla Battery? “The battery covers approximately one hectare of land, located at the Hornsdale Wind Farm”, says the Hornsdale Power Reserve webpage.[[20]] Therefore, we can estimate that a 1000 MW Li-Ion Battery of that kind may take 10 hectares or just one tenth of a kilometre square(say, only an area of 500m X 200m)! And this can be done in an area adjacent to existing power plants or might be inside the power plant area. An alternative that requires so much less land and which is also cheaper and took place in 2017, moreover, proved later to be profitable both financially and technologically – was quashed by conspicuous silence both by JICA and the Indian power authorities! And they destroyed 8-kilometre-squareof dense forest for PPSP phase 1 (2002-2008) and much more for their construction.

As far as engineering research papers, studies and conference proceedings are concerned there are many which points to the relative advantages and disadvantages of different available technologies for large scale power reserve systems. Let us see only a few not to put much burden on us.

In a journal of Royal Society of Chemistry “Energy & Environmental Science”,Turgut M Gur, Adjunct Professor, Materials Science and Engineering Dept. of Stanford recently wrote a review article: ‘Review of electrical energy storage technologies, materials and systems: challenges and prospects for large-scale grid storage’[[21]]. There he cited a comparison of performances of different energy storage technologies in a tabular form:

Table: 1. Typical performance characteristics of various energy storage systems and technologies

Source: Turgut M. Gur, Energy Environ. Sci., 2018, 11, 2696[[22]]ms is millisecond, s is second, min is minute, h is hour, ~ is almost, 1 bar is 1 atmospheric pressure approx.,

For convenience, or for clearer picture,energy density in‘watthour per litre’ can be converted into Megawatt hour per Cubic Metre by multiplying with 0.001.Thus, we get that for1 cubic metre of the system, Megawatt hour storing capacity is:

Pumped Storage:        0.0002 to 0.002 MWhr only

Compressed Air:         0.002 to 0.006MWhr

Flywheel:                     0.02 to 0.08 MWhr

Li-Ion-Battery:             0.2 to 0.4 MWhr

Na-S Battery:               0.15 to 0.3 MWhr and etc.

India being a space-scarce country where axes are ready for destroying forests and earth-movers are always ready for destroying hills, these considerations are significant.

Incidentally, Japan employs two large scale Na-S(Sodium-Sulphur) batteriesone having 34MW capacity and the other 50MW capacity, both having very less footprints or area needed. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation told on March 3, 2016 about that the World-leading 50MW / 300MWh Na-S Battery; which are in 252 containers, each providing 200kW in 63 4-module units; and these totally needed a small area of 14,000metre square (100m x 140m) only.[[23]] Therefore, it may be guessed that a 1000 MW Na-S Battery may take 20 times area, or 500m x 560m or 28 hectares or 0.28 km square, i.e. less than a third of a km square. And these battery systems also do not need any specific terrain.

The State Utility Forecasting Group (SUFG) of the Perdue University published a study already in 2013: ‘Utility Scale Energy Storage Systems Benefits, Applications, and Technologies’. There they stated: “Pumped hydro has very low power and energy density, which is the amount of power and energy that can be delivered given its volume. To store such large quantities of low density energy requires both a large area and the proper terrain. These features make building such a large facility and obtaining the proper permits difficult and costly.” [[24]]

CAES or compressed air energy storage system is also very efficient in terms of energy density but its ‘efficiency’ is generally lower, because while compressing air, air gets much hot and the heat has to be taken out by cooling – thus energy content of that air is lost. When the compressed air is again let out to run the turbine, to make it energy-sufficient some heat needs to be added, which is usually done by burning natural gas. This impediment is now nearly overcome in large scale by Adiabatic CAES systems, like ADELE which is being developed by RWE Germany. “Advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage (AA-CAES) is so far the only alternative to PHS that can compete in terms of capacity and efficiency and has the advantages of lower expected capital costs and less strict site requirements”, says a 2018 study by L.Geissbühler et al, in his paper: ‘Pilot-scale demonstration of advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage, Part 1: Plant description and tests with sensible thermal-energy storage’. [[25]] A 2019 paper by Volker Dreißigacker and SergejBelik, two researchers of German Aerospace Centre, Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, Stuttgart, explain recent studies of this technology that are going on in Germany: “This technology allows efficient, local zero-emission electricity storage on the basis of compressed air in underground caverns in combination with thermal energy storage systems and, in contrast to pumped storage power plants (PSPP), it demands no overground geological requirements. Despite the achieved success of A-CAES systems in terms of efficiency and cost, further improvements in dynamics and flexibility are needed. One promising solution to fulfil these dynamic requirements is based on the integration of an additional power-to-heat element (P2H) operating during the charging periods.”[[26]] Here we see that how various scientists and governments are concerned with minimising or avoiding site area requirement and geo-transformationsrequiredby Pumped Hydro Power Storage Systems. CAES under sea-water option is also being studied in some countries.

Some Conclusions from Discussion so far

Irreversible damages were done to the Ayodhya Hills biosphere which affected flora and fauna and also humans dependent on the nature there including loss of elephant corridor. Readers are requested to read the paper: ‘Geoinformatics in Environmental Cost Assessment of Purulia Pumped Storage Project, West Bengal’ by Abhisek Chakrabarty, and Soumendu Chatterjee [see footnote 10 for its internet source], if possible, for getting the picture more completely. Students who know RS-GIS analysis will be profited if they redo the analysis themselves and add to it the changes already happened in between 2008 and 2018, supplementing with necessary socio-economic change study of the area around – there are plenty of free and open-source geographical software available for raster analysiswhich also operate on Windows OS. And RS data are available now not only from USGS but also from BHUVAN, though for much older data USGS site might have to be visited. Others may ‘see’ some short term (2005-2019) changes, though all not very clear, from Google Earth using the time slider.

JICA and Central Electrical Authority and WBSEB (later WBSEDCL) remained silent on this destruction, rather tried to gloss over by incorrect ‘studies’ and statements published by them.

For the next phase, that is for Turga (or Thurga) nala, again these organisations are providing incorrect information regarding losses of nature and society there.

The Turga EIA study totally misled the public about feasible alternatives available today for power storage systems which might have required much less land and might cost less too.

Some Important Historical & Cultural Considerations against more PPSPs at Ayodhya Hills

Ayodhya Hills is culturally a very important place for the tribe people of Chhotonagpur plateau and forests, particularly Santal population. Kumar Rana, in his blog post on 15-09-2012, presented us a Santal Folklore ‘Invention of Plough’ written by Theodore KiskuRapaj(and translated and abridged by Kumar Rana himself). There we heard how the first wooden plough made of a single piece of wood was invented by PilchuBurhi – the ‘thakran’ or old lady or first lady in Santal folklore of creation. A channel drawn of the plough on the ground is called in Santhali “Sita nala”. Also, the drain through which water flows down is also called “Sita nala.” Irrigation was carried out by drawing channels through the plough. Then, a popular folk songgoes like this:

“The wood has caught a fire

The small plants

And the bamboo groves

And the grasses

All burnt down to ashes

O Chhita, do go to the forest

And see if there is any

Stream of water nearby”

Incidentally, Chhita was the third daughter of Pilchu Haram and PilchuBurhi. Now, what is very remarkable, “There is a stream at the Ayodhya hills near Purulia which is also called “Sita nala”. This Ayodhya hill has been a silent onlooker or a symbol of the ancient history of the Santhals. Who knows whether the real history would be unearthed some day?” [[27]]

Sita nala is the outlet of a very gentle stream of pristine water coming from underground, may be from a subterranean river. Its water is considered holy and energy giving by Tribe people. This is not far from the sites that had undergone blasting – the upper dam is only about 2-3 km from it, and more blasting will be done in future if three more pumped storage projects come up in future. Then, what could be the impact on that probable subterranean river that comes out through Sita nala?

Do the authorities have the right to make vulnerable or destroy a cultural (cum somewhat religious) place of the Adivasi people? In Canada, for instance, the government perhaps could not think such a venture, where the First Nations have at least some rights over some territories.

Now let us see a very important historical fact. BishnupriyaBasak et al presented a very important research communication ‘Earliest dates and implications of Microlithic industries of Late Pleistocene from Mahadebbera and Kana, Purulia district, West Bengal’ in Current Science, Vol. 107, No. 7, 10 October 2014.And suddenly our history of Eastern India jumped back by 34000-25000 years hence. They found evidences of Microliths at Mahadebbera and Kana, both not far from the Ayodhya Hills.[[28]] Actually, Kana is probably just 15 km from the already constructed upper dam (areal distance) and probably 17 km (areal distance) from the future dam at Turga.

 Picture 3: Distance between Kana, the archaeological site of some 40,000 years old stone age materials discovered and the PPSP upper dam

So, Kana had borne some repercussions of blasting of stones in Ayodhya Hills done in between 2002 and 2006, and the vibrations do travel very good through the upper geo layers.  And Kana may suffer more. And Microliths are very small pieces and not stubborn enough to resist much mechanical shocks and impacts. Suppose, ‘artefacts were found in situ from a depth of 1.34 –1.63 m and have been dated to 42 ± 4 ka’ [1 ka = 1000 years]. Will the geography remain same after the ‘developments’ through processes that are technologically unfit and unworthy? Many of those microliths are smaller: ‘Most of the cores are in the maximum size dimension of 2–3 cm (43) and those with a maximum size dimension of 3–4 cm number 24.’  What will happen if we lose precious historical evidences? Who will be responsible?

No Time to Waste

The Turga Project has got a stay order till mid-August in the High Court of Calcutta. But the authorities are on first tract. The third project is already announced: ‘WB to develop 900MW Bandhunala pump storage proj in PPP mode’, reports Business Standard (Press Trust of India | Kolkata Last Updated at February 10, 2019 16:00 IST).[[29]] There we read, “JSW Group Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal recently announced plans to set up a 1,000 MW pumped storage energy project in West Bengal which appears to be the third Purulia pump storage Bandhunala power project, the official said. Jindal had made the announcement at the recently concluded Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) – the state’s showpiece industry event. JSW officials however, remained tight-lipped on the details of the announcement. “We will be developing Turga pump storage power plant with help of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan but Bandhunala project will be executed through a private player,” state Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay told PTI.” In a WAPCOS report apparently cleared by  govt environmental agency, we find, “The scheme  is  located  in  between  Latitude  23°14’17.237”North  and  23°13’57.734”North; Longitude 86°10’15.95East 86°09’22.7585”East.Reference Topo-sheet for the project is No.73I/4/  NE  (Everest/Polyconic)  or  F45C/4/NE  (UTM/WGS84) of Survey of India.”[[30]]

Activists should be on alert. And the general public including the direct and indirect losers must be made aware of the detail as much as possible by lucid communication.

Postscript:The Ideas behind Power Storage Projects – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There might be various reasons to why we need to store electrical energy. Though we are not discussing the history of power storages, let us discuss in an informal way. Historically the need did arise simply due to the nature of electricity (or current electricity); current means a state of running (currēns – Latin, courant – French) and you just cannot stop it. Here is an easy (and hence not perfect) meaning of what that means. If there is a single power plant dedicated to serve several users through transmission lines and there is no ‘power grid’, then whenever demands become much more that production capacity, if the surplus demand usages are not ‘cut’, the system frequency will fall leading to stoppage of the plant. On the other hand, if demand suddenly dips and the power producer cannot adjust quickly (that is also not easy) then also the plant may trip to close down. A storage system then may help as a buffer – if you produce more, you store, if demand is more, you release from store — but when you store, it is no more ‘current’, it is transformed or it must be transformed into other form of energy. Earlier energy storage systems were chemical – food, wood etc. were all energy stored as chemical energy and our body take our energy stored in food. The water cycle stores solar (heat) energy in part mechanically as water vaporised to cloud à rain/snow on mountains à the potential energy, stored up there in water high up, flows down and supplies energy to water mills. Electric current likewise can be stored chemically (or electro-chemically), in Batteries, or mechanically, like, you pump water from a lower lake to an upper lake when you have excess electricity, and release water from water lake to make current electricity by dynamos when demand exceeds production.

Chemical storage solved another problem – it enabled carrying electricity to places without transmission line – this is, making electricity portable, through electric cells or battery, which gave the world ‘electric torch’ and later many other devices like that.

Invention of high power transformers opened up long distance power transmission and distribution (transformers for both stepping up and stepping down as and where needed).

Later like in other developed countries, in our country also power grids developed: state level power grid, regional grid and national grid. Grid of Eastern India is connected to power grid of Bangladesh too. There are Load Despatch Centres at state, regional and national level.Say, if BEST of Mumbai at a moment feels it needs to buy power, it looks in the system to see states where power is at excess, prices of those probable sellers, then Maharashtra decides how much to buy from where, negotiates and buy; that may be from Jharkhand, or from Tamil Nadu, or West Bengal State boards or private companies. The 2012-July type national grid failure, that severe blackouts, are less likely to happen now.The system is highly organised, developed and centralised (and incidentally, more vulnerable to sophisticated ‘hacking’or disruption from outside and also from within:international hacking happened several times in recent years, for example in Iran and Venezuela).

And within this highly organised system, there are entities which vie to maximise own profit, maximise its market share, employing almost oligopolistic pricing mechanisms and thus engenders competition and anarchy of production. The system itself welcomes more and more spot buying and selling where demand, supply may vary not only in hours but also in minutes, seconds, as prices and other economic calculations dominates, not just technological factors or natural factors (like special problems in rainy seasons, etc.).To meet this peculiar problem, more and more power storage systems are needed by the capitalists in power sector (state or private power companies allied with their native and imperialist financiers and ‘partners’.For example, we find in a newspaper in 2003, “Major Japanese corporates such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Taisei Corporation, Toshiba and Mitsui and Bharat Heavy Electricals are involved in the erection of the project near Ayodhya Hill in Purulia district 350 km from here.” [[31]])

To see ow the System welcomes a ‘volatile’ power buying and selling you may read just one newsitem published about three months ago – How the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission is pushing for 100% power sale in spot market, and the major reaction of the producers’ cartel, i.e. Association of Power Producers, is ‘operational and settlement issue’,where settlement means completion of financial transactionin buying and selling, and operational does not deal with technology, but cost of electricity in some plants and problems in distribution companies’ sub-systemsor silos.[[32]]

But there is another side of the story of power storage systems. Renewable power, solar (photo-voltaic and thermal), wind, tidal (may be run of the creek type, that is without large dams or barrages, this non-impeding solution is very important for fish and other species, and also for fishermen), and etc. all are intermittent, in the sense that power generation varies considerably through a day and also seasonally.Prof Gur in his abovementioned publication says, “Certainly, storage should be an essential component of the global energy systems of the future, especially if renewables were to take on 80% of the global need. [[16]] The individual maturities, or technology readiness levels (TRL), of storage technologies vary widely as illustrated in Fig. 5. Similarly, the US DOE’s view of the evolution, cost reduction and market penetration of storage technologies is expected to follow the trends depicted in Fig. 7, i.e., there will be both short term and long term milestones and goals that need to be achieved. [[16 — Electricity Storage and Renewables: Costs and Markets to 2030, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA2017), available at http://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/ Publication/2017/Oct/IRENA_Electricity_Storage_Costs_2017. pdf, accessed July 6, 2018.]]”[[33]]

Now, “if renewables were to take on 80% of the global need” in a future not afar is indeed a bold declaration of aim. And there is another aspect of the future too. That is – non-grid, or, distributed generation, or decentralised renewable generation, distribution and utilisation. Not only famous advanced research institutes of the world, but also notable Indian institutes, like IISC Bangalore and some IITs have been working on this.

This future interests all environmentalists and hence development power storage technology too. Certainly, pumped hydro power storage system is a thing of the past, which is bad for nature and society. This was proved by researchers who worked on the effect of Purulia Pumped Storage Project that was built up in 2002-2008 period, and we mentioned that already. Hence it is all the more necessary to stop further pumped storage projects at Ayodhya Hills, that will destroy the ecosystem there including killing all the hill streams that are still free.

The author is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India.  Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at sandeepbanerjee00@gmail.com

NB: This article is purely for educational purpose; it is free and not-for-profit — it is not copyrighted. This article or part of it can be used as permitted under Creative Commons License or Copyleft. It is prayed that copyright holders of materials used in it, which are very less, will not mind. A shorter version of this article appeared online on May 23 in Frontier Weekly site.

Sources / Footnotes

[1] Pumped Storage Hydro Plants in Balancing Power Flow, by Pranab K. Bhaduri & Amit K. Gangulee, 2014. https://www.academia.edu/12900927/PUMPED_STORAGE_HYDRO_PLANTS_IN_BALANCING_POWER_FLOW

[2] Revision of Updated Pre-Feasibility Report, Bandu Pumped Storage Project (4×225 MW). WBSEDCL, Consultant WAPCOS Nov 2018. http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Online/TOR/14_Dec_2018_1313076705PLCEJTYPFRFINAL.pdf

[3] Picking up the pace, by I M Sahai, 1 February 2003.

https://www.waterpowermagazine.com/features/featurepicking-up-the-pace/

[4] LOK SABHA DEBATES (English Version) Fifth Session (Tenth Lok Sabha), Column 260 of Written Answers. https://eparlib.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/478/1/lsd_10_5th_24-11-1992.pdf

[5] Compensatory Afforestation Fund management and Planning Authority. Final Approval. http://wbcampa.org/upload/proposalforfinalapproval.pdf

[6]Ex-ante Evaluation, https://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/evaluation/oda_loan/economic_cooperation/c8h0vm000001rdjt-att/india01_3.pdf

[7]ibid

[8] History of JICA, Data and Information, https://www.jica.go.jp/english/publications/reports/annual/2015/c8h0vm00009q82bm-att/2015_67.pdf

November 1989 OECF Guidelines for Environmental Considerations is

published.

[9] Environmental Impact Assessment for International Cooperation

Furthering the Understanding of Environment Impact Assessment Systems for Experts Engaged in International Cooperation Activities

March, 2000. Overseas Environmental Cooperation Center, Japan

https://www.env.go.jp/earth/coop/coop/materials/10-eiae/10-eiae.pdf

[10] ‘Geoinformatics in Environmental Cost Assessment of Purulia Pumped Storage Project, West Bengal’, by Abhisek Chakrabarty, and Soumendu Chatterjee, Indian Journal of Geography and Environment, Volume 11: 2010. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273458515_Geoinformatics_in_Environmental_Cost_Assessment_of_Purulia_Pumped_Storage_Project_West_Bengal

[11]See endnote 6

[12]Turga Pumped Storage Project, Preparatory Study in India, Draft Final Report March 2018, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Page 5-3. https://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/social_environmental/id/asia/south/india/c8h0vm0000bqnnc5-att/c8h0vm0000d2h233.pdf

[13] WEST BENGAL STATE ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMAPANY LIMITED

BANDU PUMPED STORAGE PROJECT (4×225 MW) http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Online/TOR/14_Dec_2018_1313076705PLCEJTYPFRFINAL.pdf

[14] Subject: Minutes of the meeting regarding operationalization of existing pump storage plants (PSPs) and related issues held in New Delhi (at NRPC) on 28-06-2017– reg http://www.cea.nic.in/reports/others/planning/resd/mom_pump_storage_plants.pdf

[15] STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENERGY (2018-19) 43 SIXTEENTH LOK SABHA

MINISTRY OF POWER, Hydro Power FORTY THIRD REPORT

LOK SABHA SECRETARIAT, NEW DELHI

January, 2019/Pausa, 1940 (Saka)

http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/Hydro-power.pdf

[16]See endnote 12

[17] South Australia’s Tesla battery on track to make back a third of cost in a year

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/sep/27/south-australias-tesla-battery-on-track-to-make-back-a-third-of-cost-in-a-year

[18] see https://www.poundsterlinglive.com/best-exchange-rates/australian-dollar-to-indian-rupee-exchange-rate-on-2017-06-30

[19] “Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has executed a Rs 5,000 crore loan agreement for the 1,000-megawatt (MW) Turga pumped storage project in Purulia, an official statement said Thursday. This is the second pumped storage project in West Bengal which is estimated at Rs 6,922 crore, it said.” JICA offers Rs 5,000cr loan for Turga pumped storage project. Press Trust of India| Kolkata Last Updated at November 15, 2018 20:35 IST https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/jica-offers-rs-5-000cr-loan-for-turga-pumped-storage-project-118111501342_1.html

[20]Hornsdale Power Reserve webpage: https://hornsdalepowerreserve.com.au/

[21] Review of electrical energy storage technologies, materials and systems: challenges and prospects for large-scale grid storage, Turgut M. Gur, Energy Environ. Sci., 2018, 11, 2696, This journal is ©The Royal Society of Chemistry 2018

[22] ibid

[23] Mitsubishi Electric Delivers High-capacity Energy-storage System to Kyushu Electric Power’s Buzen Substation

http://www.mitsubishielectric.com/news/2016/0303-b.html

[24] State Utility Forecasting Group, June 2013, Utility Scale Energy Storage Systems Benefits, Applications, and Technologies https://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/sufg/docs/publications/SUFG%20Energy%20Storage%20Report.pdf

[25] Pilot-scale demonstration of advanced adiabatic compressed air energy storage, Part 1: Plant description and tests with sensible thermal-energy storage. L. Geissbühler et al. Journal of Energy Storage, Volume 17, June 2018, Pages 129-139 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352152X17305546#bib0005

[26] System Configurations and Operational Concepts for Highly Efficient Utilization of Power-to-Heat in A-CAES, Volker Dreißigacker and Sergej Belik, German Aerospace Center, Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, Stuttgart, Appl. Sci. 2019, 9, 1317; doi:10.3390/app9071317

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c910/c435ec6e9552ea58a3529a69bfbe186c704c.pdf

[27] Santhal Folklore: The Invention of the Plough, by Theodore Kisku Rapaj, Abridged Translation by Kumar Rana (Kumar’s Blog post on Sat, 09/15/2012) http://pratichi.org/content/santhal-folklore-invention-plough

[28] ‘Earliest dates and implications of Microlithic industries of Late Pleistocene from Mahadebbera and Kana, Purulia district, West Bengal’ Bishnupriya Basak et al, Current Science, Vol. 107, No. 7, 10 October 2014.

[29] ‘WB to develop 900MW Bandhunala pump storage proj in PPP mode’, Business Standard.  February 10, 2019. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/wb-to-develop-900mw-bandhunala-pump-storage-proj-in-ppp-mode-119021000336_1.html

[30] BREIF SUMMARY OF BANDU PUMPED STORGAE PROJECT (4 x 225MW) http://environmentclearance.nic.in/writereaddata/Online/TOR/14_Dec_2018_120715930LMC5QRL3BreifaboutProject.pdf

[31] Bengal may go it alone on Purulia power project, Our Bureau, Kolkata, The Hindu Business Line, Thursday, Nov 06, 2003. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2003/11/06/stories/2003110601361700.htm

[32]CERC pushes for 100% power sale in spot market, by Sarita C Singh, Economic Times, Feb 05, 2019. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/cerc-pushes-for-100-power-sale-in-spot-market/articleshow/67841105.cms

[33]See endnote 21


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