The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has released its 2020 Hydropower Status Report, which notes that India overtook Japan as the fifth largest hydropower generator in the world with an installed capacity of 50.07 GW.
The IHA’s report also showed that globally, hydropower generated 4,306 TW of power in 2019, the highest contribution from any renewable energy source recorded in history. Also, 15.6 GW of capacity was added in 2019,and the overall global capacity reached 1,308 GW during the year.
China continued to be the world leader in terms of installed capacity with 356.40 GW, followed by Brazil and the United States with 109.6 GW and 102.75 GW, respectively.
The IHA said that 50 countries added new hydropower capacity in 2019 and Brazil, with 4.92 GW of additions; China, with 4.17 GW; and Laos, with 1.89 GW, were the largest contributors. Meanwhile, India had added 154.1 MW of hydropower capacity during the year, registering a 25% increase in annual generation.
The largest hydro project commissioned in 2019 was the 720 MW Mangechu Project in Bhutan, funded by the Indian government to power the country’s market and to export any surplus power to India.
The report also praised India’s 510 MW Teesta-V hydropower station in Sikkim, owned and operated by NHPC Limited. The IHA called it an example of good practices in hydropower sustainability in 2019. NHPC has about 6,971 MW of hydropower projects in operation currently, 4,924 MW under various stages of construction, and another 8,171 MW awaiting clearances. The company also recently announced plans to set up 155 MW of hydropower projects in Ladakh.
The IHA also noted that that pumped storage hydropower (PSH) currently accounted for over 94% of installed global energy storage capacity, and over 96% of the energy stored in grid-scale applications. However, it found that there was a decline in the growth of installed pumped storage hydropower capacity during the year because of project delays in China.
The report also contained other findings from its study of the global hydropower market. It highlighted how the sector had proven its resilience amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis by providing clean, reliable, and affordable energy.
To show hydropower’s resilience in these times, it cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call on Indians to switch off their lights for a COVID-19 vigil, leading to an unprecedented 31 GW of load variability for over nine minutes. The IHA credited hydropower for enabling the country’s grid operators to restore electricity throughout the country despite the huge, temporary plunge in demand, which could have caused major grid stability issues.
In March 2019, India decided to include large hydropower projects over 25 MW under the portfolio of renewable energy. This move by the government added 43 GW of existing hydropower projects to the renewables basket.
According to Mercom India Research, as of March 31, 2020, large hydropower projects of 45.7 GW are operational in the country, accounting for 12.3% of the total installed power capacity in India.
Nithin Thomas is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. More articles from Nithin.