Sep 1 2016 | Focus


India is the seventh largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world. Hydro power is one of the largest renewable sources of energy available for power generation in India. Hydroelectric potential of India is vast due to the presence of number of rivers and other water bodies across the length and breadth of the country. The hydro potential is estimated to be around 1,48,701 MW and ranks fifth globally. Bulks of these opportunities are in the North Eastern part of the country. Off late the focus has shifted more on Solar energy and the hydro power generation as a renewable source of energy has taken a back seat. The Government of India aims to rectify this scenario and take necessary steps to revive the hydro power sector. Sandeep Sharma takes a look at the languishing hydro power sector in India.

Electricity generation during April 2016 to June 2016 through Hydro was 30.800 Billion Units (BU) compared to 34.785 BU in the corresponding period of the previous year. The generation capacity addition during April 2016 to June 2016 was 65 MW compared to 730 MW in the corresponding period of the previous year. The installed capacity of hydroelectric power as on 30th June, 2016 is 42848.43 MW. The proposed hydro power capacity addition is 10,897 MW during the 12th Plan period. The 12th plan target seems to be not achievable with the present status of the project. Due to favourable monsoon in the current year, the hydro power generation got a boost in the month of June, 2016 and gaps were narrowed by 2% compared to last year.

To set up hydroelectric power projects, the detailed project reports are required to be submitted for concurrence or appraisal of Central Electricity Authority (CEA). As of July, around 50 proposals are received from various states for setting up hydro power projects. Out of this 35 are awaiting the CEA concurrence or appraisal.

To fast track hydro power projects, the Government of Himachal Pradesh has announced certain amendments in State Hydro power Policy. The amendments aim to facilitate faster approval in case of delay in obtaining clearances from National Board of Wildlife, Terms of Reference (ToR) approval by Ministry of External Affairs, domain change, Policy provisions, environment clearances and diversion of forest and government land and various other issues.

Some of the recent hydroelectric projects include:
Environment nod received for Kiru hydroelectric project which is planned to come up on Chenab river in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. The cost is estimated to be Rs 4,640.88 crore. Chenab Valley Power Projects (CVPP) Ltd is implementing Kiru HEP and other projects such as 1,000 MW Pakal Dul HEP, 540 MW Kwar HEP and 550 MW Dulhasti (Stage-II) HEP in Chenab river basin.

NHPC Ltd aims to commission two units of 40 MW each of the 160 MW Teesta Low Dam Project Stage IV in West Bengal, 330 MW Kishanganga projects and one unit of 200 MW of the 800 MW Parbati II in Himachal Pradesh during the current fiscal.

In July, 2016 BHEL has commissioned third unit of the NHPC's 4x40 MW Teesta Low Dam hydroelectric project stage-IV in West Bengal. The project is run-of-the-river greenfield project located in Darjeeling district on Teesta river.

NHPC is hopeful about resuming work on the stalled 2000 MW Lower Subansiri hydro power project along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.


Public sector enterprises like National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC)  (5987 MW installed capacity), Northeast Electric Power Company (NEEPCO) (755 MW), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL) (1500 MW), THDC (1400 MW), NTPC-Hydro are the active players in hydro power generation in India. The companies in the private sector include Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (1700 MW), Lanco (586 MW), Greenko (258 MW) and Tata Power (573 MW).

Private sector projects were given a big push in the previous regime. Many of the projects did not see the light of the day due to legal and regulatory issues. The Government of the day is gearing up to push the sector forward with corrective measures.

Hydropower projects in India are generally categorized in two segments i.e. small and large hydro. Small Hydro Power (SHP) in India has been standardized up to the level of 25MW. Ministry of Power, Government of India is responsible for large hydro projects; the mandate for the subject small hydro power (up to 25 MW) is given to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Small hydro power projects are further classified as Micro (upto 100 kW), Mini (between 101 to 2000 kW) and Small Hydro (between 2001 to 25000 Kw). MNRE is encouraging development of small hydro projects both in the public as well as private sector. Equal attention is being paid to grid-interactive and decentralized projects.

Discussions are on to increase the capacity of small hydro projects to 100 MW from 25 MW so that tax benefits and subsidies can be availed by those power producers who are in >25 MW slab. The subsidies in the range of Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 20 crore per Mw are given to small hydro projects. Renewable energy also enjoys accelerated tax benefit

India has an estimated SHP potential of about 15,000MW of which only 20% has been tapped. As per PIB release dated 31st August, 2016, as many as 60 Small Hydro Power Projects up to 25 MW, capacity aggregating to 223 MW, were commission during the last two years.  Of which, 12 Small Hydro Projects (SHP), aggregating to 15 MW, are in the North-Eastern Region.  Besides, quality standards for Micro Hydro Projects have also been developed.  Development Real Time Digital Simulator for Small Hydro Projects has been initiated at IIT, Roorkee. Global Information System (GIS) based Renewable Energy Resource Potential Mapping has been initiated by the Ministry in 2005.

Small hydro power projects are preferable and environment friendly. Most of these projects are normally run-of-river and construction of dam is not required. Issues associated with large scale hydro projects like deforestation, resettlement and rehabilitation are to the bare minimum. The Government of India is working on a comprehensive policy to revive stalled hydro power projects, including small projects of less than 25 MW.

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