With a population of well over a billion people and a fast growing economy, India’s electricity demand is expected to double over the next decade. India currently has 197 hydropower plants above 25 MW, plus nine pumped storage stations and ranks fifth in the world for potential hydropower capacity.
Hydropower’s share in the electricity mix has, however, been decreasing over the years, accounting for approximately 10 per cent of generation in 2017, with the majority (80 per cent) coming from thermal.
The year 2017 nonetheless marked a turning point in new clean power installs, at 15.7 GW, including almost 2 GW new hydropower, well exceeding new thermal capacity additions. Most added hydropower capacity came from commissioning the 1,200 MW Teesta III hydropower plant in the north eastern state of Sikkim.
Projects entering service in 2017 were 100 MW Sainj, 97 MW Tashiding, 96 MW Dickchu, 120 MW Pulichintala (first three units adding 90 MW), and 60 MW Tuiral among other projects. India also has a renovation and modernisation programme for ageing hydropower assets, with 21 schemes completed in March 2017 accruing benefits of 549 MW.
In the last quarter of 2017, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) reported 11.5 GW capacity was under construction, just over 25 per cent by the private sector. The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is building the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri project in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, which has faced delays, the 800 MW Parbatti II project in Himachal Pradesh, and the completed 330 MW Kishanganga project. The government is also investing in the north western state of Jammu and Kashmir through the joint venture Chenab Valley Power Projects Limited, with 1,000 MW Pakal Dul and 624 MW Kiru now at an advanced stage of ordering civil construction and equipment supply.
India has over 90 GW of pumped storage potential, with 63 sites identified and recognised in national energy policies for their valuable grid services. The CEA’s priority is to commission pumping capability at three out of the nine installed pumped storage schemes, Kadana I & II, Nagarjuna Sagar and Sardar Sarovar. The 1,000 MW Tehri facility now under construction is due for service by 2019.
India’s transmission capacity has grown by 40 per cent since 2014 and has been operating as a single national grid since 2012-13 when the five independent regional grids were integrated. With new high voltage transmission corridors such as the North East Agra Line, India’s cross-country power flows are improving and already greatly reducing power shortages.
Many current hydropower projects have been slow going with delays due to complex planning procedures, prolonged land acquisition and resettlement, a lack of enabling infrastructure including transmission, insufficient market scope and the availability of long term financing.
Significant reforms made in recent years include the 2008 Hydro Power Policy encouraging private sector participation and the 2016 National Tariff Policy on frequency response markets and extended certainty of power purchase agreements. The CEA and Ministry of Power have also been actively monitoring and fast-tracking priority schemes, notably the 50,000 MW Hydro Electric Initiative.
Policy proposals mooted by observers include new ancillary service markets, attributing hydropower full renewable status along with separate purchase obligation benefits, and more integrated planning. Draft policies under preparation are expected to support stalled hydropower projects and private sector uptake and could include measures to make hydropower tariffs more competitive.
This country profile is featured in the 2018 Hydropower Status Report. Download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in June 2018.