India has 46,850 Megawatt in hydropower capacity, generating 11.2 per cent of electricity produced annually as of 31st May 2023. Hydropower will be crucial to boost the share of renewable energy in electricity generation, and it can help bridge the gap when variable renewable energy cannot match the electricity demand.
Ambition & Strategy:
India intends to build 70 Gigawatts of hydropower capacity by 2030, up from 50 Gigawatts at the end of 2019. Secondly, to boost the share of hydropower in electricity generation, the government has given large dams clean energy status, forcing power distributors to get electricity generated from hydropower plants ahead of fossil fuels like coal.
Biggest Hydropower Plants
- Tehri Hydropower Complex, located at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Bhilangana Rivers in the State of Uttarakhand, was owned and operated by Tehri Hydro Development Corporation from construction in 2006 until 2019. Now, it is under the National Thermal Power Corporation. It has a capacity of 2400 Megawatt, utilised for electricity generation, irrigation and supplying water to North Indian states.
- Koyna Hydroelectric Project, located close to the Koyna River in the State of Maharashtra, is owned and operated by MAHAGENCO and Maharashtra State Power Corporation. Construction commenced in 1954, and it has undergone development in four distinct stages, resulting in a total capacity of 1960 megawatts.
- Srisailam Dam is on the Krishna River on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is owned by the government of Andhra Pradesh and operated by APGENCO. Construction was initiated in 1960 and successfully concluded in 1981, resulting in a total capacity of 1670 megawatts.
- Nathpa Jhakri Dam, positioned on the Satluj River within the State of Himachal Pradesh, is owned and operated by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam.
- Construction commenced in 1993 and reached completion in 2004, boasting a capacity of 1530 megawatts.
- The Sardar Sarovar Dam is situated on the Narmada River within the state of Gujarat, under the operational management of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam. Construction commenced in 1987 and reached completion in 2017. It has a capacity of 1450 Megawatt and supplies water and electricity to neighbouring states.
- The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, established in 1975, is headquartered in Faridabad, Haryana. It is a government-owned entity responsible for planning and developing hydroelectric power. It has 7000 Megawatts of installed capacity.
- GMR Energy Limited was established in 1996 and has its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Their hydroelectric plants are designed to reduce environmental impact and provide advantages to local communities. They have an installed capacity of 3000 Megawatts.
- Tata Power Hydro was founded in 1983 and has its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra. They specialise in the development and operation of hydroelectric power plants. They have 500 Megawatts of installed capacity.
- National Thermal Power Corporation Hydro was founded in 1975 and headquartered in New Delhi. They focus on hydroelectric power plants and have an installed capacity of 3725 Megawatts.
- SJVN Limited is a joint venture of the Government of India with the Government of Himachal Pradesh. It was established in 1988 and is in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. They are involved in generating and selling hydroelectric power and possess an installed capacity of 2000 megawatts.
- The most significant challenge in hydropower development is the disregard for environmental concerns, resulting in incidents like floods and landslides that have tragically claimed numerous lives. Credible monitoring and compliance are needed to address the issue.
- The second problem with scaling hydropower through big dams is that it comes with rehabilitation and resettlement issues as the displaced population need to be relocated elsewhere.
- The third obstacle is local opposition to hydropower projects due to environmental concerns, which need to be addressed by the government if India is to scale hydropower in its energy matrix.
India’s hydropower, generating 11.2% of electricity, is poised for growth with plans to reach 70 GW by 2030. Key plants like Tehri, Koyna, Srisailam, Nathpa Jhakri, and Sardar Sarovar contribute substantially. Operators like NHPC, GMR Energy, Tata Power Hydro, NTPC Hydro, and SJVN play essential roles. Challenges include environmental impact, rehabilitation, and local opposition. Balancing growth with environmental and social considerations is vital for a sustainable energy future.