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Renew | May 2016

Government should give more priority to the development of hydro power

Dr. R.P. Saini | Head, Alternate Hydro Energy Centre, IIT Roorkee

As we can see, the government has thrust a considerable backing for renewable energy generation, especially solar. Do you think that the hydropower sector is being ignored, consciously or otherwise, amidst all the buzz surrounding solar power?
It is good to give considerable thrust for development of solar and wind, but the development of hydropower should not be given least priority compared with the other renewable energy sources (Solar and Wind). The advantages of hydropower cannot be ignored. Solar energy has many disadvantages which could be minimised by hydropower development. Most of the environmental problems in hydropower development are associated with dam-based large hydro power schemes. However, these problems can be mitigated by development of small hydro (mini and micro) power schemes. Government should give more priority to the development of hydro power.

What are the advantages of Hydro power when compared to other renewable energy sources?
Solar and Wind energy resources are time dependent and their availability is uncertain and may need storage especially in case of solar energy. However, pumped hydro storage is possible with most of the hydropower plants. This makes them ideal storage for wind and solar power which are intermittent in nature. Hydro electricity can be produced in almost any size from few Watts to 10000 MW which makes it very versatile. Hydropower is much more reliable than wind and solar power and is more or less predictable much in advance. The load factor for Solar and Wind energy ranges from 15-40 per cent which is quite low compared to fossil fuel energy. Hydroelectricity on the other hand has a load factor of almost 40-60 per cent.

What kind of support systems are necessary for exploitation of hydro to its full potential?
Government should take immediate action to resolve all the pending issues of the hydro power schemes which are under implementations and stopped due to some disputed issues. It should create a clear-cut policy framework along with the State governments for the development of projects already identified and available for execution.

The plant capacity of small hydro power (SHP) as 25 MW presently may be increased up to 50 MW and states should be encouraged for setting up new small hydro projects. Setting up hydro projects should be declared as ´priority´ under National Mission by Government of India.

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