Tapping hot springs for power explored as opportunity for Himalayan region in India

Tapping hot springs for power explored as opportunity for Himalayan region in India Tapovan hot springs, Uttarakhand, India (source: flickr/ dinesh_valke, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 5 Oct 2020

As part of a study on the potential to utilise existing geothermal hot springs for energy production, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) has signed an MoU with Jaydevm Energies on the development of a 5 MW geothermal power plant at Tapovan hot springs in Chamoli, Uttarakhand state, India.

A project recently explored over 70 hot springs in the two northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal in India  – around 40 in the region of Uttarakhand and 30 in Himachal — to identify which of those could have a potential being developed to produce electricity.  The research was led by scientists at Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG). The researchers trust that most of the hot springs identified as part of the research would be able to support small power plants of up to 5 MW in power generation capacity.

In a statement to Economic Times in India, Kalachand Sain, Director of WIHG, said studies on the potential utilisation of hot springs in the two states will continue. At the same time WIHG has signed an MoU with private firm Jaydevm Energies Private Limited, on the development of a small 5 MW geothermal power unit at Tapovan hot springs in Chamoli’s Joshimath area. WIHG would provide technical assistance in the construction of the plant. The temperature of the hot spring is around 90 degrees Celsius and be sufficient for a low-temperature binary cycle unit.

If successful, the project could be the start for additional plants at other of the identified hot springs.

According to Sameer Tiwari, a scientist of WIHG, there are an abundant number of hot springs in the Himalayan regions of Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh.

“In Uttarakhand, there are a number of hot springs around religious places at high-altitude locations like Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath,” he said, adding that “at Tapovan, the power production company has already started work.”

A pilot project in Chumathang (Ladakh) already utilises geothermal energy for heating a restaurant/ guest house with support also from solar cells.

While significantly more expensive in the development than traditionally used thermal plants, the overall cost of production is significantly lower.

It is expected that the development cost of the project at Tapovan hot springs is around Rs 150 core

Santosh K Rai, another scientist from WIHG involved in the project said that the infrastructure of the project may cost four times higher than thermal power plants, but once set up, the cost of production will be four-to-five times lesser. “The reason for the high cost in geothermal is that the parts of the plant and other necessary elements are not commonly available in the market. However, we can make up later as production cost is lesser. This project will cost around Rs 150 crore (around USD 20 million),” added Rai.

Source: Economic Times India