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India’s hydro generation dips below 10% in 2017-18

Jun 08, 2018

Looking at the trends, the total hydropower generation is likely to remain below 10% of total power generation in coming many years.

New Delhi: In 2016-17, for the first time in independent India’s history, hydropower generation from large hydropower projects in India fell below 10% of total electricity generation.

According to a blog at South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), diminishing generation of existing hydropower projects is one of the major reasons for this declining proportion of hydropower generation.

In 2017-18, for which the Central Electricity Authority figures have just became available, the trend has continued, with proportion of electricity produced by large hydropower projects going further down. This percentage is in terms of actual generation (measured as Million or Billion Units[i]) and not installed capacity (measured in Mega Watts).

As per recently released figures for the year ending on March 31, 2018, the power generation from large hydropower projects (CEA only reports large hydro generation) in 2017-18 was 126.18 BU, when total power generation in India (including renewables generation of 101.84 BU, but excluding Bhutan imports of 4.78 BU) was 1303.37 BU, hence hydropower generation in 2017-18 was 9.68%, for the second year in a row going below 10% of total generation.

In previous year (2016-17), the proportion was 9.90% (hydropower generation of 122.38 BU compared to total power generation (including renewable generation of 81.97 BU but excluding Bhutan imports of 5.62 BU) of 1236.39 BU).

Looking at the trends, the total hydropower generation is likely to remain below 10% of total power generation in coming many years, since while hydropower generation is still going up, the total generation is growing at much faster pace. In fact, the total renewables generation is likely to overtake the total hydropower generation in 2018-19 or the next year.

Two major reasons for this declining proportion of hydropower generation are: diminishing generation of existing hydropower projects in India[ii] (see the graph below) and large hydropower projects becoming more and more unviable in spite of all the propaganda of they being clean, green, cheap and renewable sources of power. As power minister of India stated in the Parliament recently[iii], at least 15 large hydro projects (NHPC chief says 40 HEPs need bailout package, see below) with capacity close to 6000 MW remains stranded in India.

These projects have received all the statutory clearances, but are not going forward due to financial or technical or inter-state or legal issues or inept implementation or agitation. The power ministry[iv] should stop wondering how to bail out unviable large hydropower projects through bailout packages of Rs 16000 crores and more. They need to understand that when solar and wind power is available at price below Rs 3 per unit, why is there attempt to push large hydro whose cost is universally over Rs 5-6 per unit at least for first few decades.

Click here to read the complete article.

Source: SANDRP

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