RK Singh vows to double India’s hydropower capacity
In a groundbreaking development, Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy, RK Singh, has revealed plans to double India’s hydropower capacity. During his address at Moneycontrol’s Policy Next summit, Singh announced the ambitious goal of increasing the current hydropower capacity from 47,000 MW to a minimum of 90,000 MW. Emphasizing the stagnant state of hydroelectric generation capacity when he assumed office, Singh highlighted the revival efforts that have resulted in the existing 47,000 MW installed capacity.
As of now, hydropower constitutes only 11% of India’s total installed power generation capacity, a significant decline from the 52.78% it held in 1962-63, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). Despite some greenhouse gas emissions, hydropower is considered a relatively clean energy source, especially compared to coal-fired plants.
Singh disclosed that an additional 18,000 MW of hydro projects are currently under construction, with another 13,000 MW in various stages of surveys and investigations. The minister’s commitment to doubling the existing capacity is set to raise India’s hydropower capacity to an impressive 90,000 MW to 100,000 MW.
While 31,000 MW of projects are in the pipeline, details about the remaining 12,000 MW to 22,000 MW for achieving the doubling goal were not clarified by Singh. However, senior officials in the power ministry assured that potential sites have been identified for the additional capacity.
Singh highlighted specific projects contributing to the expansion, including the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower project in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, expected to be fully commissioned by December. Additionally, units of the Parbati-II project in Himachal Pradesh are set to commence operations in April. The fate of the Tapovan Vishnugad project, stalled due to land subsidence in Joshimath, awaits a court decision this year.
The government’s ambitious 2,880 MW Dibang multi-purpose hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh, delayed by a decade, is now scheduled for commissioning in 2032. This project will become India’s largest hydropower project upon completion, featuring the country’s tallest dam at a height of approximately 288 meters.
India’s focus on increasing hydropower capacity in the Northeast region is driven by geopolitical considerations, particularly in response to China’s extensive dam construction along the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo) in its territory. Government data indicates that the Brahmaputra alone has the potential to fulfill 40% of India’s hydropower needs.
Breaking down the regional distribution, the North boasts the highest installed hydropower capacity at 19,696.3 MW, while the North East has the lowest with 2,027 MW. The South, West, and East regions have capacities of 9,741.6 MW, 5,552 MW, and 5,087.8 MW, respectively.
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