NEW DELHI: Against the backdrop of coal shortages impacting the power sector, increasing hydro power generation capacity would help in strengthening India’s energy security, says a report. Many hydro power projects are grappling with delays and cost overruns, mainly due to geological as well as geopolitical obstacles.
“Given India’s tight domestic coal supply and increasing reliance on imported coal, hydro capacity provides the country with greater energy security…,” HSBC Global Research, part of banking giant HSBC, said in a recent report on the Indian hydro power sector.
Going by estimates, hydro power makes up for little over 20% of the country’s total installed capacity of more than 1,90,000 MW.
The hydro capacity addition was revised to about 8,200 MW from earlier target of 15,600 MW in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12). However, the actual capacity added during that period is estimated to be around 5,400 MW.
“Indeed, the hydro portion of national capacity has actually fallen in the last few decades, because of the long gestation period required for hydro projects due to terrain complexity and geopolitical issues of the areas in which the projects are located,” the report pointed out.
In India, hydro power generation begin around March and peaks in September. The electricity production, however, comes down during winter season.
At present, the policy for hydro power is focused on building run off the river plants. Consequently, many of the projects are located in the Himalayan states, that are also sensitive in terms of environmental and geopolitical factors.
Among the positives, hydro power projects are more environment-friendly and has minimal carbon footprints than thermal plants.
Coal-based projects are projected to account for over 50% of global carbon emissions. InIndia, majority of the plants are fired by coal.
The report noted that hydro projects can also rake in higher earnings through Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).
“Regulation in India prescribes a commitment to purchase a minimum amount of power from renewable sources and hydro can be one such source,” it added.
In the 12th Five-Year Plan, the country is expected to see a hydro power capacity addition of more than 13,400 MW. Out of the total target, private sector is anticipated to account for about 3,640 MW.