Small hydropower projects are being aggressively developed
as part of rural electrification programs, in some cases
innovative financing approaches are used in countries such
as India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Pumped storage systems require
two reservoirs at different heights. They pump water during
periods of low electric demand between the two heights and
release water from the upper reservoir during periods of
Hydropower is the conversion of energy embodied
in moving water into useful power. Today, hydropower supplies
about 19 percent of the world’s electricity.
India has an estimated hydropower potential
of 84,000 MW, of which 15,000 MW is from small hydropower (SHP).
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified
4,227 potential SHP sites, which could account for 10,324 MW
of potential energy. India had only 1,748 MW of installed SHP
capacity in 2006, meaning the market for SHP is expected to
increase substantially. The potential of this sector is however
dependent on the availability of water resources, which are
thus far abundant in a majority of states. In fact, of the 135,000
MW capacity addition requirement anticipated by the government,
35,500 MW are expected to come from hydropower. Toward this
end, a 50,000-MW hydroelectric initiative was launched in 2003.
India has a fairly developed capacity and technology for designing,
constructing, and operating small hydropower plants. There has
been continuous improvement with time in India’s small
hydro technology, with increasingly efficient and reliable domestic
At the sector level, small hydropower (SHP),
wind, and solar energy offer the maximum scope for clean energy
development. However, these sectors are relatively mature with
significant local capacity; therefore, U.S. companies may face
competition in these sectors. Geothermal and tidal energy sectors
offer the advantages of early entry into the Indian market.
Opportunities for U.S. firms include products, equipment, demonstrated
technology, and project development in these sectors. There
is a need to assess the potential of geothermal resources in
India and to harness these resources for power generation and
for direct heat applications for space heating, greenhouse cultivation,
and cooking. The potential of tidal energy and harnessing it
for power generation also needs to be assessed. In general,
a lack of technical expertise exists in installation, operations,
maintenance, troubleshooting, and other aspects of clean energy
implementation. Technological needs in the SHP sector include
technology for direct drive low-speed generators for low-head
sources, technology for submersible turbo-generators, and technology
for variable-speed operation.
State wide small hydropower potential in India
has been estimated at 84,000 MW out of which 15,000 MW from
SHP. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)5 has identified
4,227 potential small hydropower sites accounting for 10,324
MW in potential projects amounting to 25 MW. The remaining potential
sites are under study. Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu
and Kashmir, and Arunachal Pradesh have 52 percent of the projected
SHP potential. Around 1,750 MW of installed small hydropower
(SHP) operated in India in 2006. Karnataka and Maharashtra accounted
for 17 and 11 percent of the total, respectively. The states
of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir
together accounted for more than 17 percent of installed capacity.
The potential of this sector is dependent on
available water resources, which are abundant in the majority
of states. Since India needs 347,000 MW of additional capacity
through 2020 of which renewable energy can contribute 24 percent.
Major requirements for developing this sector include continued
technology improvements, cost reductions, and successful demonstrations.