Hydroelectric power in India
India is the 7th largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world. As of 30 April 2017, India's installed utility-scale hydroelectric capacity was 44,594 MW, or 13.5% of its total utility power generation capacity. Additional smaller hydroelectric power units with a total capacity of 4,380 MW (1.3% of its total utility power generation capacity) have been installed. India's hydroelectric power potential is estimated at 84,000 MW at 60% load factor. In the fiscal year 2016-17, the total hydroelectric power generated in India was 122.31 TWh (excluding small hydro) with an average capacity factor of 33%.
The hydro-electric power plants at Darjeeling and Shivanasamudram were established in 1898 and 1902, respectively. They were among the first in Asia and India has been a dominant player in global hydroelectric power development. India also imports surplus hydroelectric power from Bhutan.
India's economically exploitable and viable hydroelectric potential is estimated to be 148,701 MW. An additional 6,780 MW from smaller hydro schemes (with capacities of less than 25 MW) is estimated as exploitable. 56 sites for pumped storage schemes with an aggregate installed capacity of 94,000 MW have also been identified. In central India, the hydroelectric power potential from the Godavari, Mahanadi, Nagavali, Vamsadhara and Narmada river basins has not been developed on a major scale due to potential opposition from the tribal population.
The public sector accounts for 92.5% of India's hydroelectric power production. The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Northeast Electric Power Company (NEEPCO), Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL), THDC, and NTPC-Hydro are some of the public sector companies producing hydroelectric power in India. The private sector is also expected to grow with the development of hydroelectric energy in the Himalayan mountain ranges and in the northeast of India. Indian companies have also constructed hydropower projects in Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and other countries.
Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), a state-owned enterprise in north India, has an installed capacity of 2.9 GW. The generation cost after four decades of operation is about 27 paise (0.42¢ US) per kWh. BBMB is a major source of peaking power and black start capability to the northern grid in India and it's large reservoirs provide wide operational flexibility. BBMB reservoirs also supply water for the irrigation of 12.5 million acres (51,000 km2; 19,500 sq mi) of agricultural land in partner states, enabling the green revolution in the northern India.
Pumped storage units
India has transformed from an electricity deficit state to an electricity surplus state. Peak load shortages can be met making use of pumped storage schemes which store surplus power to meet peak load demands. The pumped storage schemes also contribute secondary, seasonal power at no additional cost when rivers are flooded with excess water. India has already established nearly 4,800 MW pumped storage capacity with the installation of hydropower plants.
Pumped storage units can also be used as pumping stations to supply river water for upland irrigation, industrial needs, and drinking water. In a tropical country like India, abundant water for agriculture is needed due to a very high annual evaporation rate. The amount of water necessary to meet this demand can be harnessed from India's rivers via pumped storage units. Food security in India is improved with water security which in turn is possible from the energy security to supply the power needed for the pumped storage schemes.
More and more solar power generation is becoming available at cheaper cost and it has advantage in terms of environmental impact. Solar power can meet daytime and night time energy demands with the help of pumped storage units.
Many of the existing hydro power stations on the west-flowing rivers located in the Western Ghats of Kerala and Karnataka are to be expanded to include pumped storage units in an effort to solve the water deficit of east-flowing rivers like the Kaveri, the Krishna, etc.
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