Electricity is one of the prime movers for achieving the socio-economic development of the country.

Economic growth further generates the demand for more energy.

Generation capacity augmentation has been the most important goal amongst various modes adopted for meeting the ever-increasing demand of power to achieve the targeted growth rate.

The capacity addition is planned very optimally in view of the limited available fuel resources for generation and environmental concerns.

Odisha has never looked back in contributing to the power generation and contemplating the growth of power generation through various sources.

The first hydro station in Odisha dates back to the year 1926 when the ruler of Bamara installed a small hydro set at Kudurkot falls located five kilometres away from Deogarh.

This was utilised for lighting of the palace only. In the state, major activities on the power development started in the fifties, with the completion of Machkund Hydro Electric Scheme, which was a joint venture with the then Madras State (now as a joint project with Andhra Pradesh) before 1960.

It was supplying power to southern parts of the undivided Koraput and Ganjam districts out of 30% share of Odisha.

The required transmission networks were planned and developed suitably as per the prevailing conditions then.

Similarly, the Hirakud Multipurpose project was executed and the benefit started from this project from early 1957 onwards.

The Hirakud power (Burla & Chiplima) known as Hirakud power system (HPS) was then catering to the power need of the most part of the state except those fed from Machhkund System for a long time.

By the end of 1960-61, the total installed capacity of the State was 167 MW from the Machhkund Hydroelectric project, Hirakud Project Stage-I, some small Thermal stations and many small diesel generating stations located at different parts of the state.

Subsequently, the Talcher Thermal Power Station (250 MW) was commissioned by April 1969. After that, the Grid Control and Monitoring Organisation was formed known as “Grid Operation Organisation”.

Another important breakthrough was achieved with the execution and commissioning of one major hydroelectric project at Balimela with installed capacity of 360 MW (6 X 60 MW) under the state sector by January, 1977 along with the associated long transmission system.

After completing this project, by 1978-79, Odisha had an installed capacity of 914 MW (664 MW from Hydro and 250 MW from Thermal) with extensive networks of 220KV and 132KV transmission lines and with other HT and distribution networks throughout the state.

With this overall growth of the power system, the significance of the load despatch and grid operation was felt necessary.

Load despatching operations were conducted from the main control room of the Talcher Thermal Power station.

After a decade, the State Load Despatch Centre (SLDC) started functioning from Bhubaneswar during 1986-87.

In the meantime, during the year 1983-84, 220 MW Talcher Thermal Expansion Project got commissioned and in turn increased the thermal generation capacity of the state to 470MW.

To harness the hydro potential two major hydro power stations were installed and commissioned in the subsequent years.

These are 250 MW (5 X 50 MW) Rengali multipurpose project in Angul district and a 320 MW (4 X 80 MW) station at Upper Kolab in the Koraput District.

In addition, another 37.5 MW (7th unit) at Hirakud main power station at Burla was commissioned in 1990.

In the late 1980s and early part of 1990s, the construction activities of 420MW Ib Thermal power station (OPGC) had started and the units were put to commercial operation by 1996 resulting in enhancing the thermal capacity of the state to 880MW.

Thus, Odisha Power System grew in size with large hydro stations and simultaneously development of thermal power stations.

Consequent upon power sector reforms in the state, Odisha Hydro power Corporation Ltd. (OHPC) was formed in April 1995 and entrusted with the business of generating hydroelectricity along with developing the hydro power in the state.

In further development, the Upper Indravati hydro Electric project i.e. the largest Hydro power station of the state with capacity 600MW (4x150MW) was commissioned during the year 2000-2001.

Thereafter, 150MW hydro capacity was added to the system by installing two more units of 75MW capacity each at Balimela HEP during 2007-08.

Further, the thermal capacity of the state has been increased by 1320MW (2x660MW) with the expansion of OPGC Unit-3 & 4 in the year 2019.

Meanwhile, various Captive Generating Plants (CGP) as well as Independent Power producers (IPP) had started contributing to the state power generation through Thermal power.

But the power sector has witnessed a remarkable change during the last two decades due to increase in domestic, commercial and industrial consumers’ growth.

The total installed capacity in Odisha is around 5636 MW including the share from central generating stations out of which the installed capacity of hydro is 2087 MW. The maximum power demand of the state is approx.

5150 MW during summer peak and present annual energy requirement of the State is of the order of 28000 million units approx.

At present the State is availing 5048 MW power during evening peak from different sources (Hydro- 1363 MW, Thermal – 2423 MW, RE- 69 MW, Central Sector Share- 1193MW).

Due to constraints in constructing new large hydro projects in the state because of issues relating to submergence, rehabilitation and resettlement etc. The contribution of Hydropower (in percentage) towards meeting the grid demand has decreased substantially over the time from 72% in 1980 to 21% in 2021.

The State is having a vision to increase the power generation capacity of both renewable and non-renewable Thermal up to 6119 MW by 2030 to meet the State power demand.

Due to stringent emission norms of coal plant, the State is prompted to turn to green energy for growth as well as to reduce its carbon footprint.

o mitigate the future peak demand and to have green energy round the clock, OHPC the State designated agency has planned three pumped storage power plants with the proposed total capacity of 1420 MW at Upper Indravati (600 MW), Upper Kolab (320 MW) & Balimela (500 MW) in the vicinity of the existing high head hydro-electric power stations.

Feasibility studies have been undertaken for these sites and the draft Detailed Project Report (DPR) of 600 MW upper Indrāvati PSP project is under scrutiny at various departments of CEA and CWC for clearances.

Further OHPC is preparing the DPR for a major hydroelectric project with the capacity of 63 MW on river Khadag in Kandhamal district.

Apart from this OHPC is also preparing the DPR for an integrated project on river Salki in Boudh district whose capacity is yet to be assessed (tentatively 44 MW).

Odisha, has good potential in the small hydroelectric power generation. Keeping in view the requirements under Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), State Renewable Policy 2016 envisages to achieve 150 MW capacity addition under SHEP by the year 2022. Small hydro power is a green energy source and environment friendly.

Under SHEP development programme, 4 nos. of projects have already been commissioned adding 81 MW to the State Grid. On an average 360 MU green energy is being supplied each year by these SHEPs.

Further, another 3 projects i.e., 18 MW Saptadhara SHEP in Malkangiri district, 9 MW Bargarh Head Regulator SHEP in Bargarh district & 15 MW Dumajhori SHEP in Koraput district are in different phases of construction. In a year or two, these 3 SHEPs will become operational and contribute another 42 MW to the grid under the green power category.

Apart from this the construction of the first captive 10 MW Mandira SHEP on river Sankh in Sundargarh District will be started shortly.

Presently, Odisha is availing 1194 MW of Renewable Energy, out of which 529 MW from the renewable sources (viz. Small Hydro, Solar, Biomass etc.) installed in the state and 565 MW (from Wind and Solar) is being availed from outside states towards fulfilling the RPO.

State has planned to enhance its further solar generation capacity by developing another 550 MW Surface solar project and 500 MW Floating solar project in the State.

In the present scenario where there is infusion of more and more renewable power like Solar and Wind to the National Grid, the role of Hydro Generation has become more crucial and is being redefined.

Conventional Hydro Power houses along with Pump Storage Power Houses can smoothen the fluctuating output of solar and wind generation which varies depending on weather and the time of day/ year.

It can also provide critical power system stability services such as power system inertia, frequency response and grid regulation to reinforce system strength and, depending on their design, can have the black-start capability and operate in synchronous condenser mode.

All these will definitely contribute towards the uninterrupted operation of the Grid and enhance the quality of Power.