Editor’s Note

Power Watch India - - NEWS - R Srini­vasan

In­dia, as per Central Elec­tric­ity Au­thor­ity’s (CEA) assess­ment, is en­dowed with an es­ti­mated hy­dropower po­ten­tial of 148,700 MW of in­stalled ca­pac­ity. In ad­di­tion, hy­dro-po­ten­tial from small, mini and mi­cro schemes has been es­ti­mated as 6,782 MW. But the hy­dro share in the en­ergy mix has fallen from around 46% in the 1960s to around 15% cur­rently. This de­cline is be­cause hy­dro-power suf­fers from chal­lenges such as non-avail­abil­ity of long-term fi­nanc­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and re­set­tle­ment (R&R) is­sues, land ac­qui­si­tion prob­lems, de­lays and non-clear­ance on en­vi­ron­ment and for­est as­pects, etc. Also construction and op­er­a­tion of hy­dro-power dams can re­port­edly af­fect fish and wildlife pop­u­la­tions. The dev­as­tat­ing 2013 Ut­tarak­hand flash-flood served to fur­ther dam­age per­cep­tion re­gard­ing hy­dro-power gen­er­a­tion. Re­port­edly Ut­tarak­hand has a frag­ile eco-sys­tem and ac­tiv­ity re­quired for hy­dro-power projects (such as min­ing, construction, etc) can con­trib­ute towards weak­en­ing the al­ready frag­ile area. So due to var­i­ous fac­tors, till April 2015, around 21 hy­dro-power projects were fac­ing time over­runs of five or more years. But the govt has taken a num­ber of ini­tia­tives to pri­ori­tise hy­dropower de­vel­op­ment and at­tract in­vest­ments in the sec­tor. Re­cently Power Min­is­ter Piyush Goyal had said that a scheme for pro­vid­ing long-term funds to re­vive stalled hy­dro-power projects is be­ing worked out and that he will speak to state power min­is­ters (since wa­ter is a state-spe­cific sub­ject) on how they could help re­vive stalled hy­dropower projects.

Sim­i­larly, hy­dro-power tech­nol­ogy could be made more ef­fi­cient so that it can re­spond to new chal­lenges. Real-time data pro­vides di­ag­nos­tics on faults and al­lows pre­dic­tive main­te­nance op­er­a­tions, gen­er­at­ing huge sav­ings for the plant. Us­ing such data, op­er­a­tors in keep­ing with global trends of as­set per­for­mance and man­age­ment can take the right de­ci­sions at the right time and meet chal­lenges of the new hy­dro mar­ket where speed, ef­fi­ciency and op­ti­mi­sa­tion are vital.

Also in the cur­rent sce­nario, over-de­pen­dence on coal-based gen­er­a­tion poses a threat to en­ergy se­cu­rity. In view of in­creas­ing pres­sure on the govt to re­duce the coun­try’s car­bon foot­print by har­ness­ing clean en­ergy sources, hy­dro-power (as it does not em­ploy fos­sil fu­els to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity) also pre­vents the re­lease of up to 249 tonnes of CO2 into the earth’s at­mos­phere each year. As an added ben­e­fit, IRENA’s es­ti­mates sug­gest that hy­dro-power by 2030 will be the sec­ond largest source of em­ploy­ment within the re­new­ables in­dus­try. In view of all the above ad­van­tages, hy­dro-power with some safe­guards in place, can emerge as a sus­tain­able so­lu­tion for both en­ergy gen­er­a­tion as well as en­ergy se­cu­rity.

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