MoU signed for a 1 GW pumped storage scheme in Chhattisgarh, India

JSW Energy, one of India’s leading private power producers, is pursuing plans to develop a series of pumped-storage projects as part of its renewable energy expansion strategy.

The company, through its newly established green growth subsidiary JSW Neo Energy, announced on 1 April the signing of an MoU with the Government of Chhattisgarh, a landlocked state in central east India, to build the 1 GW Hasdev Bango pumped-storage project.

“By integrating pumped storage capacity with our solar and wind powerplants in the near future, we can provide firm dispatchable renewable power,” said Prashant Jain, Joint Managing Director and CEO of JSW Energy.

The parent company, JSW Group, meanwhile, reaffirmed its interest in developing a 900 MW pumped-storage project in the eastern state of West Bengal. “We are keenly pursuing the project, which will bring clean energy to the state, and we hope to receive this prestigious project through a nomination from the state government,” Company Chairman Sajjan Jindal said on 21 April at the inaugural session of the Bengal Global Business Summit.

The West Bengal Government announced plans in early 2019 to develop a third pumped-storage plant at Bandhunala in Purulia under a PPP model. JSW Energy has been securing key resources for pumped-storage in various states, for projects with a targeted capacity totalling up to 10 GW. In the last fiscal year it signed an MoU with the State Government of Maharashtra for a 1.5 GW project and signed a letter of intent with the Rajasthan government for a 1 GW project. It says that water allocation has been approved for the two projects, and that environmental clearance processes and techno-economic feasibility studies are underway.

JSW Energy has set a target for a 50 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 by transitioning towards renewable energy. Fossil fuel generation accounted for 70 per cent of the company’s capacity of 4.6 GW in the year ending 31 March 2021, with the remainder from two pumped-storage projects and a small solar plant. But it aims to increase renewable energy production by 18 per cent a year from 1.4 GW in FY21 to 16.8 GW by FY30. The group has around 2.5 GW of renewable projects under construction, for which it has signed long-term PPAs. It has 225 MW of solar near the commissioning stage and around 2000 MW of wind energy under construction.

In addition, the 240 MW Kutehr hydropower project in the state of Himachal Pradesh is scheduled to be commissioned by October 2024. Estimated capital expenditure in the region of US$10 billion will be required to meet its 2030 target. Looking further ahead, JSW Energy has MoUs for renewable energy resources of 5 GW and 10 GW in each state, respectively.

The company says that India has 90 GWh of potential to host pumped storage, of which only 3.3 GWh has been tapped to date. The company also sees green hydrogen as a major opportunity, with India having the second-largest hydrogen demand base in the world, and is working with a subsidiary of Australian iron ore giant Fortescue, FFI, to explore potential projects.