Un­lock­ing the log­jam

Electrical Monitor - - VIEW POINT -

ndia is blessed with a large num­ber of river basins that criss­cross the coun­try from mighty Hi­malayas to South­ern Penin­sula. The abun­dant avail­abil­ity of free flow­ing wa­ter makes In­dia an ideal choice for hy­dro­elec­tric projects. With ex­ploitable hy­dropower po­ten­tial pegged at nearly 1,50,000 mw, In­dia is cur­rently ranked fifth across the world in terms of us­able po­ten­tial. As­sum­ing a 60 per cent plant load fac­tor, that gives power gen­er­a­tion of 90,000 mw.

Some of the basins that hold size­able po­ten­tial in­clude Brahma­pu­tra Basin (66,000 mw), In­dus Basin (33,000 mw) and Ganga Basin (21,000 mw). Hy­dro­elec­tric power gen­er­a­tion is also en­vi­ron­ment friendly since it non­pol­lut­ing and es­sen­tially in­volves con­vert­ing ki­netic en­ergy of flow­ing or fall­ing wa­ter into elec­tric en­ergy. While elec­tric­ity is evac­u­ated and trans­mit­ted to con­sumers, the wa­ter flows back into the river.

IGiven that In­dia is ac­tively work­ing on a strat­egy to cut down emis­sion of harm­ful gases, the pol­icy frame­work must fo­cus on green ca­pac­ity ad­di­tions via hy­dropower de­vel­op­ment. Hy­dro power’s role in ad­dress­ing en­ergy se­cu­rity with min­i­mal dis­charge in en­vi­ron­ment is based on three el­e­ments of sus­tain­abil­ity, avail­abil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity. Hy­dro power plants, for in­stance, pro­vide clean power with no green­house gas emis­sion while con­struc­tion of dams con­trib­utes to flood con­trol. Hy­dro power plants have a long eco­nomic life of over 40 years. Im­por­tantly, hy­dropower plants al­low for quick in­crease or cut down in power pro­duc­tion, thereby giv­ing th­ese units the flex­i­bil­ity to ad­dress de­mand fluc­tu­a­tion. This as­pect of quick start/stop of hy­dropower is also im­por­tant in man­ag­ing grid op­er­a­tions when con­tri­bu­tion of elec­tric­ity from non-con­ven­tional re­new­able sources like so­lar or wind be­comes sig­nif­i­cant. With such inherent ad­van­tages and huge po­ten­tial, hy­dro­elec­tric power gen­er­a­tion in In­dia needs to be rein­vig­o­rated in a mean­ing­ful man­ner. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est data on power gen­er­a­tion, the in­stalled ca­pac­ity of hy­dropower is around 46,000 mw in­clud­ing small hy­dro projects. This is less than 17 per cent of In­dia’s to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 2,76,000 mw. This is also just 31 per cent of the ex­ploitable hy­dropower po­ten­tial of 1,50,000 mw. As far as the re­gion wise split is con­cerned, most of the po­ten­tial has been har­nessed in south­ern and western

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