Financial closure for Luhri 1 and Dhaulasidh in Himachal Pradesh, India

Indian hydropower producer Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), a joint venture of the Government of India and the Government of the country's northern state of Himachal Pradesh, has achieved financial closure for the 210 MW Luhri Stage I and 66 MW Dhaulasidh hydropower plants.

Financial closure of Luhri I, on the River Satluj in the Shimla and Kullu districts of Himachal Pradesh, was finalized on 3 March with the ap­proval of a loan agreement with the State Bank of India. Under the agreement, the bank will provide INR 15.37 billion (US$ 198 million) at an effective interest rate of 6.9 per cent per year, representing the debt component of the total cost of INR 19.22 billion (US$ 247.8 million).

A loan agreement was also signed on 19 April with the Himachal Pradesh State Co-operative Bank for the debt financing of the INR 6.88 billion (US$ 88.7 million) Dhaul­asidh project on the Beas river in the Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh, at an annual interest rate of 6.71 per cent.

Both run-of-river projects are being developed by SJVN on a Build, Own, Operate and Maintain (BOOM) basis and are being financed through a debt-to-equity ratio of 80:20, with financial support in the form of grants from the Government of India for enabling infrastructure. Construction of the two projects is “in full swing and moving fast forward”, according to SJVN. Ground-breaking for the two projects took place in December 2021, and Luhri I is scheduled to come online in April 2026, and Dhaulasidh in May 2025.

In February of this year, river diversion works for Dhaulasidh were completed, paving the way for the construction works of the cofferdam and excavation of the dam foundations. Dhaulasidh will comprise a 70 m-high concrete gravity dam and a surface powerhouse at the toe of the dam, which will be equipped with two 33 MW units, each with vertical Francis turbines. The electro-mechanical equipment is to be supplied by Voith Hydro under a contract awarded in February 2022.

The project will operate as a baseload station with a small live storage for peak power production during the dry season. It is designed to generate 304 GWh in a 90 per cent dependable year and on the basis of 95 per cent availability under a gross head of 46.37 m based on water availability studies. Luhri Stage I will comprise an 80 m-high concrete gravity dam, with pondage for peaking.

Water will be channelled via a 567 m-long horseshoe-shaped diversion tunnel with a diameter of 10 m and through four intakes and four 90 m-long penstocks to the powerhouse. The plant will be equipped with two main 80 MW units and two auxiliary units of 25 MW each and is designed to generate 758 GWh/year.

Luhri Hydro Power Consortium, led by Patel Engineering in partnership with HES Infra, is implementing the project under an EPC contract worth INR 9.76 billion (US$ 132.5 million), awarded in July 2021. Luhri Stage I is one of three projects to be built by SJVN as part of the Luhri Cascade, which is designed to include Luhri Stage II (163 MW) and Luhri Stage III (382 MW), also known as the Sunni hydropower project. SJVN tendered an EPC contract covering design and engineering services and civil and hydro-mechanical works for Luhri Stage III in May 2021 (see H&D Issue 3, 2021).

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