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US pumping tech selected for first-a-kind 1000MW hydropower plant in India

First pumped-storage power plant in Northern India to use GE’s variable-speed systems to increase plant efficiency

First pump-storage power plant in Northern India to use GE’s variable-speed systems to increase plant efficiency

A leading US firm has been selected to supply its pumping technology for a 1000MW "first-of-a-kind" hydropower plant in India. The power conversion business sector of GE, which has headquarters in the US, will deliver its speed drive technology for THDC India's (Tehri Hydro Development Corporation) pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant in Northern India. The development will mark a technology first for the country when the plant starts operating in 2016.

This is the first pumped-storage power plant in India to use variable-speed pump turbine sets. GE said the technology provides higher power output than previous systems and much needed grid stability for India's increasing electricity demands. The facility, which is located on the Bhagirathi River in the state of Uttarakhand, supports India's "Power for All" initiative to bolster the country's energy security.

Stephan Krämer, power generation business leader of GE's Power Conversion, said: "As we bring our technology to India, one of the world's fastest growing regions for power generation, we are helping to meet the needs for cleaner, efficient and reliable electricity. Because of its efficiency and productivity benefits, variable-speed drive technology is an excellent match for the region's power needs."

French firm Alstom, which is involved in developing the plant, selected GE Power Conversion to provide its voltage source drive technology. GE's Power Conversion drive systems will be used for all of the plant's variable-speed motor/generator sets of the pump turbines to enable continuous control of the plant's pump output.

Frédéric Teyssedou, Alstom Hydro India managing director, said: "Combined with Alstom's technology, GE's expertise and track record will play a significant role in this first-of-its-kind project to provide solutions for highly efficient power generation. We are confident that GE and Alstom, operating as local companies, will make together major contributions to India's energy future."

Efficient and flexible storage

GE said demand for pumped-storage power plants is increasing in India and worldwide. Pumped storage is a more efficient and flexible form of storing electricity on a large scale. Most pumped-storage power plants worldwide are fixed-speed systems. The only way to control pump output in these plants is to activate and/or deactivate individual machine sets, the company said. The use of variable-speed drives leads to higher efficiency, especially in partial-load operation, because the operating point can be perfectly adapted to grid conditions.

The news from GE follows other western developed technology being chosen to push forward hydropower in the BRIC countries this year. This includes Alstom, which was selected in April to supply all electromechanical equipment to Cachoeira Caldeirão, a 220MW hydro plant in Brazil.