The Indian government’s Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved measures to promote the hydropower sector that include declaring large hydropower projects to be part of the non-solar renewable purchase obligation (RPO).
According to the PMIndia website, large hydropower projects are to be declared a renewable energy source. Previously, only hydropower projects less than 25 MW were categorized as renewable energy, and these small projects were covered under the non-solar RPO.
Per this announcement, large hydropower projects commissioned after notification of these measures will be included in the non-solar RPO.
The government says that India is endowed with large hydropower potential of 145,320 MW, of which only about 45,400 MW has been utilized so far. Only about 10,000 MW of hydropower has been added in the past 10 years. The hydropower sector is going through a challenging phase and the share of hydropower in total electricity generating capacity has declined from 50.36% in the 1960s to around 13% in 2018 to 2019.
Besides being environment friendly, hydropower has several other unique features, like ability for quick ramping, black start, reactive absorption, etc., that make it ideal for peaking power, spinning reserve and grid balancing/ stability. Hydropower also provides water security, irrigation and flood moderation benefits, apart from socioeconomic development of the entire region by providing employment opportunities and boosting tourism etc.
The importance of hydropower is increasing even more as the country has targeted to add 160 GW of intermittent solar and wind power by 2022 and 40% of the total capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 to honor its Nationally Determined Contribution for Climate Change.
We recently reported on work to advance construction of the 624-MW Kiru Hydroelectric Project, being built upstream from the 390-MW Dulhasti Hydroelectric Project on the Chenab River.