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Hydro Energy

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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 high demand.

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 equipment.

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.

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