India to focus on developing Hydro Power Sector


Photo by Sharath G. from Pexels

India, a country blessed with natural  resources and endowed with large  hydro power  potential of 1,45,320 MW of which only about 45,400 MW has been utilized so far, is poised to develop this huge potential further. The decision was taken recently at the Union Cabinet meeting that was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Cabinet approved measures to promote Hydro Power Sector further, including Declaring Large Hydropower Projects (HPO) as part of non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO). Interestingly, this decision has been taken at a time when only about 10,000 MW of hydropower has been added in the last 10 years and the share of hydropower in the total capacity has declined from 50.36% in the 960s to around 13% in 2018-19.

Besides being environment friendly, hydropower has several other unique features like ability for quick ramping, black start, reactive absorption etc. which make it ideal for peaking power, spinning reserve and grid balancing/ stability. Further, hydropower also provides water security, irrigation and flood moderation benefits, apart from socio-economic development of the entire region by providing employment opportunities and boosting tourism etc. The importance of hydropower is increasing even more as the country has targeted to add 160 GW of intermittent Solar and Wind power by 2022 and 40% of the total capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 to honour its Nationally Determined Contribution for Climate Change. However, DISOMS are reluctant sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) Hydro Power due to higher tariff, particularly, in the initial years. One of the reasons for high tariff of hydropower is the loading of cost of flood moderation and enabling infrastructure in the project cost. In this backdrop, the decision has been taken to adopt measures to promote hydropower sector including providing budgetary support for flood moderation cost and enabling infrastructure cost and tariff rationalization measures to reduce tariff and thus the burden on the consumer.

As most of the hydro power potential is located in the higher reaches of Himalayas and North- East Region, it will result in overall socio-economic development of the region by providing direct employment in the power sector. It will also provide indirect employment/ entrepreneurial opportunities in the field of transportation, tourism and other small scale businesses. Another benefit would be of having a stable grid considering 160 GW capacity addition by 2022 from infirm sources of power like solar and wind.

The hydropower energy stands above its counterparts  as it is highly capital-intensive mode of electricity generation but being renewable source of energy with no consumables involved; there is very little recurring cost and hence no high long term expenditure. It is cheaper as compared to electricity generated from coal and gas fired plants. It also reduces the financial losses due to frequency fluctuations and it is more reliable as it is inflation free due to not usage of fossil fuel.

In India, the public sector accounts for 92.5% of nation’s hydroelectric power production. Internationally, 2700 TWH is generated every year through hydroelectric power production. At least 50% of electricity production in 66 countries and at least 90% in 24 countries is through this medium. Three gauges project in China on Yang-Yang River is the largest power station in the world having installed capacity of around 18,200 MW while the world’s Largest Hydro Electric Power Station is ITAIPU with installed capacity of 12600 MW and a reliable output of 75,000 MU in a year. It is located at the Border of Brazil and Paraguay. In India, the oldest Hydropower power plant is in Darjeeling District in West Bengal. Its installed capacity is 130KW and was commissioned in the year 1897.

The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Northeast Electric Power Company (NEEPCO), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), THDC, and NTPC-Hydro are some of the public sector companies producing hydroelectric power in India. Some of the major  hydro-electric power  stations in India are as follows: Tehri Dam (Uttarakhand), Koyna Hydroelectric Project (Maharashtra), Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Nathpa Jhakri (Himachal Pradesh), Sardar Sarovar Dam (Gujarat), Bhakra Nangal Dam (Himachal Pradesh), Chamera I (Himachal Pradesh), Sharavathi Project (Karnataka), Indira Sagar Dam (Madhya Pradesh), Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant (Himachal Pradesh), Dehar (Pandoh) Power Project (Himachal Pradesh), Nagarjuna Sagar Dam (Andhra Pradesh),  Purulia Pass (West Bengal), Idukki (Kerala), Salal I & II (Jammu & Kashmir), Upper Indravati (Odisha), Ranjit Sagar Dam (Punjab), Omkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh), Belimela Dam (Odisha) and Teesta Dam (Sikkim).

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