April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination




THE CONTEXT: India’s hydropower output has experienced a significant decline, reaching its steepest fall in nearly four decades.


  • We will examine the reasons behind this decline, its implications for India’s energy landscape, and potential future scenarios.

Record Drop in Hydropower Generation

  • During the fiscal year ending March 31, India witnessed a remarkable 16.3% drop in hydropower generation, marking the most significant decline in at least 38 years.
  • This decline is attributed to erratic rainfall patterns, which have led to reduced water levels in reservoirs and heightened reliance on coal-fired power.

Impact on Renewable Energy Goals

  • The decline in hydropower generation coincided with a marginal decrease in the share of renewables in India’s power output.
  • Despite the government’s commitments to boost solar and wind capacity, renewables accounted for only 11.7% of power output, down from 11.8% in the previous year.

Challenges with Hydro as a Reliable Source

  • Experts caution against over-reliance on hydro as a consistent power source due to erratic rainfall patterns.
  • While there may be prospects for increased rainfall during the upcoming monsoon season, the impact on hydropower output would not be immediate.
  • This uncertainty underscores the need for diversification in India’s energy mix.

Declining Share of Hydropower

  • Hydropower’s share in India’s total power output reached a record low of 8.3%, compared to an average of 12.3% over the past decade.
  • This decline is attributed to a slowdown in the addition of new hydropower capacity, while other sources such as coal, solar, and wind have gained prominence.

Rise in Coal-Fired Power Generation

  • The reduction in hydropower output has led to an increase in coal-fired power generation, which rose by 13.9% in 2023-24.
  • This trend highlights India’s ongoing dependence on fossil fuels, with coal accounting for a significant portion of the country’s energy mix.

Missed Renewable Energy Targets

  • India’s failure to meet its 2022 target of installing 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy underscores the challenges in transitioning to clean energy sources.
  • The country remains 38.4 GW short of this goal, with renewables’ addition slowing to a five-year low in 2023.

Global Comparison

  • Globally, hydropower output experienced a decline, attributed to factors such as lower rainfall and warmer temperatures.
  • India’s decline in hydropower output surpassed the global average, reflecting the severity of the situation in the country.

Hydroelectric Potential in India:

  • Hydropower potential is located mainly in northern and north-eastern regions.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has the largest unexploited hydropower potential of 47 GW, followed by Uttarakhand with 12 GW.
  • The unexploited potential is mainly along three river systems — the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra
  • India has several international issues across these river systems. Like electricity, hydropower should also be brought on the concurrent list to formulate uniform policies and processes for faster development.
  • India has over 90 GW of pumped storage potential, with 63 sites identified and recognised in national energy policies for their valuable grid services.
  • India has an estimated hydropower potential of 1, 45,320 MW, excluding small hydro projects (SHPs) which has 20 GW potential.
  • India ranks as the fourth country in the world by undeveloped hydropower potential, after Russia, China and Canada, and fifth by total potential, surpassed also by Brazil.

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indias-hydropower-output-records-steepest-fall-in-nearly-four-decades/article68015359.ece

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