Buoyed by the increasing policy support from the government, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the country to add 26,000 megawatt (MW) of hydropower projects by 2030. Currently, the installed capacity of the 207 hydropower projects running in the country is 46,209 MW. More than 9,000 MW of large hydro projects are under construction at present.
The present installed capacity includes the 4,785 MW of pumped storage hydro projects, which are used devices for storing electricity. Another 1,500 MW of pumped storage hydro projects are under construction. The IEA forecasts pumped storage hydro fleet almost tripling by 2030 to accommodate growing solar capacity. The government has recently awarded 1,200 MW of renewables and storage in a tender that included 900 MW of pumped storage, offering a weighted average price of Rs 4.04/unit and a peak tariff of Rs 6.12/unit, and 300 MW of battery storage at average Rs 4.3/unit peak tariff of Rs 6.85/unit.
In 2019, the government classified conventional hydropower and pumped hydro projects greater than 25 MW as a renewable energy source, making them eligible for more affordable renewables-only financial support. In the “Hydropower special market report” recently launched by the IEA, the agency noted that the introduction of a specific purchase obligation for hydropower will stimulate demand in electricity distribution companies (discoms).
“Financial support such as grants for enabling infrastructure and flood control, and policies enabling cross-border trade among India’s states, also support hydropower development,” the report noted.
For the better part of the last century, hydropower provided the impetus to the industrialisation of the country. However, from the 1980s onwards share of hydropower in the overall energy matrix of the country has fallen rather sharply. In 1980, hydro provided around 40% of installed capacity which is now around 12% only.
The government has recently approved the 210 MW Luhri Stage-I hydroelectric project in Himachal Pradesh and an 850 MW Ratle hydroelectric project on the river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2003, the Central government had launched a scheme for the preparation of a preliminary feasibility report of 162 new hydro projects with a capacity of 47,930 MW. Out of this, only 2,377 MW are currently under construction and 96 MW are operating. Projects accounting for 17,350 MW had to be shelved due to environmental issues and local agitations.