India’s hydro power potential

This article deals in brief with the hydro power potential and status of development, projects in operation/ under implementation/ under planning, largest head hydro power plants, small hydro power plants in India. - M P Singh

Renewable Energy, Green Power Electricity, Energy Conservation, Sustainable Energy, Environments, Solar power | ENERGY SUPPLY HYDROELECTRIC POWER
India’s hydro power potential

Water is one of the nature’s best renewable gifts in India, which can be harnessed for cheap power generation. Hydro power potential of India is estimated at 84,000 MW (at 60% load factor) and ultimate possible installed capacity of 145,320 MW in stations with installed capacity over 25 MW. While water is a State subject, electricity is a subject in Concurrent List. Development of hydro power in India is governed by Indian Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 and its amendment Indian Electricity Act, 2003.

Power supply position

Power demand during last decade has increased a lot, but its production has not been able to keep up pace with increasing power demand. India is experiencing a shortage in energy supplied as well as peak met. Electricity requirements vis-à-vis its availabilities and peak power demands vis-à-vis peak met in India during the period April 2018 – August 2018 and in August 2018 are mentioned in Table 1.

Contribution of hydro power resource to total

India has conventional as well as non-conventional energy resources: thermal, hydro and renewable. Contribution of hydro installed capacity is low as compared to thermal. At the end of August 2018, contribution of hydro installed capacity to total installed capacity in India is 13.2 per cent.

Hydro power potential & status of development

Hydro potential for hydro power schemes above 25 MW: First systematic and comprehensive study carried out by Power Wing of erstwhile Central Water & Power Commission during 1953-1959 assessed hydro power potential of India as 421,00 MW at 60 per cent load factor. Re-assessment study for hydro potential was completed in 1987, in which hydro potential was placed at 84,040 MW at 60 per cent load factor. It corresponds to 148,701 MW in terms of installed capacity including small hydro schemes. Excluding small hydro projects up to 25 MW, hydro power potential works out to 145,320 MW. In additions, 94,000 MW potential was also identified for development of pumped storage schemes.

Region-wise break-up of hydro power potential assessed, potential developed, under development and balance to be developed is given in Table 2. North-Eastern Region has the largest potential (58356 MW: 40 per cent) followed by Northern Region (52263 MW: 36 per cent), Southern Region (15890 MW: 11 per cent), Eastern Region (10680 MW: 7.4 per cent) and Western Region (8131 MW: 5.6 per cent).

Note: In addition to above, 1,840 MW in Western region, 2,005.6 MW in Southern region and 940 MW in Eastern region (total 4,785.60 MW) has also been added in pumped storage schemes. Thus, total installed capacity of hydro power stations works out as 45,369.22 MW as on 31 August 2018.

From Table 2, it is observed that 27.93 per cent of the total hydro potential has been developed and 7.57 per cent is under development. Thus, about two-third of the potential (64.50 per cent) remains to be developed. Therefore, there is a large scope for hydro power development in India.

Hydro projects in operations

All India hydro installed capacity in operation: 204 hydro power stations (individual station capacity over 25 MW) aggregating to an installed capacity 45,369.22 MW are in operation India.

Region-wise: Region-wise break-up of hydro stations in operation in India and their aggregated installed capacity is given in Table 3. Northern Region has the largest installation, followed by Southern Region, Western Region, Eastern Region and North-Eastern Region.

Sector-wise: Sector-wise breakup of hydro stations in operation in India with aggregated capacity is given Table 4. State Sector has largest installation followed by Central and Private sectors.

Stations with installed capacity over 500 MW: 27 hydro stations as mentioned in Table 5 with individual capacity over 500 MW and aggregating to capacity of 22214.6 MW are in operation. They contribute about half (55.7 per cent) of total hydro installation in Country.

Largest generating units in operation: Unit of size 100 MW and above installed in various hydro power stations in India are listed in Table 6 in descending order. They contribute to about two-third (66.6 per cent) of the total installed capacity in the country.

Largest head hydro power projects: Highest head hydro power plant commissioned so far in India is Suruliar (979.15 m) followed by Kodayar-I (947.62 m), Vishnu Prayag (947.5 m), Sanjaya (Bhaba) (887.2 m), Pykara (867. 46 m). Top ten highest head power plants commissioned in India are listed Table 7.

Hydro power projects under implementation

Hydro power projects under construction: As on 30th June 2018, 38 hydro stations (station capacity above 25 MW) with an aggregate installed capacity 12,208.50 MW are under construction in the country. Sector-wise details are listed in Table 8.

Projects Concurred by CEA and yet to be taken under Construction: As on 31st August 2018, 41 hydroelectric schemes (station capacity above 25 MW) aggregating to an installed capacity of 26,460 MW have been concurred by CEA, but not taken for construction mainly due to pending environment/forest clearances by MoEF or due to some other reasons. Sector-wise details are mentioned in Table 9.

Hydro power projects under planning

DPRs are under examination in CEA for concurrence: As on 31st August 2018, 7 schemes (station capacity above 25 MW) aggregating to 1,654 MW are under examination in CEA for according concurred. Sector-wise details are mentioned in Table 10.

DPRs examined and returned for resubmission after compliance of observations: Detailed projects reports (DPRs) of 29 hydroelectric schemes aggregating to an installed capacity of 9,852 MW submitted by various developers for concurrence were examined by CEA and the same were returned to the concerned developers for resubmission after compliance of comments of CEA/CWC/GSI. Sector-wise details are mentioned in Table 11.

Prime Minister’s 50,000 MW Hydro Initiative

Preparation of pre-feasibility reports: Under the programme launched by Prime Minister of India on 24th May 2003 for preparation of Preliminary Feasibility Reports (PFRs) of hydroelectric schemes under 50,000 MW Hydroelectric Initiative, FPRs for 162 schemes aggregating to 47,930 MW in 16 States were prepared by seven CPSUs/ State agencies as consultants, viz. NHPC, WAPCOS, SJVNL, NEEPCO, KPCL, HPSEB and UJVNL. These schemes were selected based on preliminary ranking study done by CEA. State-wise break up is given in Table 12.

PFRs prepared would serve useful purpose of fixing the inter-se priority for implementation of schemes and also as a basis and reference for taking up on surveys and investigations and preparation of detailed project reports of these hydroelectric schemes.

Small hydro power development

Small Hydro Power (SHP) is generated from flowing/ falling water from rivers/ rivulets/ storage dams/ canal drops. Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) is responsible for development of SHP projects (station capacity up to 25 MW) for following uses:

Hydro potential for hydro power schemes up to 25 MW: As per CEA’s study carried out during1987-1996, small hydroelectric schemes (capacity up to 25 MW) aggregating to 3,381 MW were identified. In addition, MNRE has also identified 5,718 sites aggregating to 15,384.15 MW for development of SHP (Table 13).


India has been the pioneer country in the development of hydro power. Every type of hydro power scheme has been developed, viz. run-off- river and storage, surface and underground, conventional and pumped storage, base load and peak load, high/ medium head and low head, large/medium and small/ mini/ micro schemes. India has hydropower potential of 145,320 MW. 35.5 per cent of this hydro power potential has been developed/ being developed. This necessitates accelerating the process of development of remaining 64.5 per cent of potential. Development of this renewable, clean and non-polluting power would help in bridging the gap between the electricity demand and supply in the Country. Development of small hydro power projects would facilitate in developing the remote locations/far-off areas of the country by providing quality power to people living in these areas.

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