Small Hydro Projects Gain Momentum in India

As India walks towards a greener future, small hydro power projects are gradually gaining traction in the country. As of November 2017, small hydro projects totaling 4,399.35 MW have been installed in the country.

Minister of Power R. K. Singh in his statement to the Lok Sabha said, “1,085 small hydro power projects with aggregate capacity of 4,399.35 MW capacity have been set up. Project development work is going on at 140 sites, aggregating to 772.56 MW small hydro power capacity”.

According to the small hydro power database of July 2016 compiled by the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre of IIT Roorkee, 7,133 potential sites for small hydro projects have been identified with an aggregate capacity of 21,133.65 MW.

This shows that the government has woken up to the issues faced by large hydro projects and their implementation woes.

Small hydro projects have minimal effect on the ecology and topography of an area. Small hydro projects are cost intensive and huge returns are guaranteed in the long run. Moreover, the capacity utilization factor is high when compared to other sources of renewable energy. Thus, government agencies are providing financial and technical support to escalate the development of small hydro projects in India.

In his statement, Singh added that the country has sufficient technical expertise in the small hydro sector. To promote small hydro power development in the country, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) provides support for the Detailed Survey and Investigation (DSI) and the preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPR) to state implementing agencies.

The MNRE also provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to set up new small hydro projects, besides supporting the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre of IIT Roorkee for its technical support to the SHP sector.

Mercom previously reported that the government of India is close to finalizing a hydropower development fund worth ₹160 billion (~$2.5 billion).

All these developments indicate fast-paced project developments, and may even lead to new players foraying into the sector in the future as ample government grants and CFAs have been made available to the developers.

In August 2017, Mercom reported that the MNRE has issued an advisory to developers of small hydro projects stating that CFA may be at risk due to lack of reporting.

According to Mercom India Research, small hydro accounted for over 1 percent of India’s total installed capacity, and ~7 percent among renewable energy capacity as of Q3 2017.

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