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Installed hydropower capacity: 
148,511 MW (2018)
Hydropower generation: 
439 TWh (2018)

Hydropower installed capacity grew by 3.96 GW across South and Central Asia in 2018, which continues a similar growth trend seen last year.

Pakistan accounted for the majority of new capacity added, while Tajikistan passed a key milestone with the first unit of the Rogun hydropower project entering into operation. India also announced a major new energy policy, formally recognising large hydropower projects above 25 MW as renewable and setting hydropower purchase obligations for utilities.


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Completion of the Tarbela Fourth Extension Hydropower Project in Pakistan was the largest addition in this region. Situated on the Indus river, the extension added 1,410 MW to the existing 3,478 MW Tarbela hydropower complex from three new units commissioned in 2018, bringing the site’s installed capacity to 4,888 MW. The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) also announced that the 969 MW Neelum Jhelum and 108 MW Golen Gol hydropower projects went into operation Together these projects grew Pakistan’s hydropower sector by over 25 per cent last year alone, underlining its vital contribution to meeting the country’s electricity needs.

Neighbouring countries in South Asia are looking to advance opportunities from hydropower development. In Bhutan, the 720 MW Mangdechhu project is close to completion and, upon entering service, which is planned for 2019, will expand total grid supplies by almost 50 per cent. India, which led the region’s hydropower growth in 2017, counted a net increase of 535 MW in 2018 due to the addition of several new hydropower units and existing asset upgrades. The Indian government has also given a welcome boost to hydropower after announcing that large hydropower projects would be recognised as part of the Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) scheme, together with small-scale hydropower which was already covered.

There has also been increasing attention on cross-border electricity trade in the subcontinent between several countries in South Asia’s Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). For example, Nepal and Bhutan have each signed agreements with India to sell power generated from upcoming hydropower projects, and in 2018 Bangladesh agreed to a new power deal with Nepal. At the end of 2018, India issued new guidelines making provisions for neighbouring countries to transfer power via its national grid to a third country, representing a major breakthrough for regional power trade.

In Central Asia, further to significant progress on Tajikistan’s Rogun project, modernisation programmes of large, existing hydropower stations are moving ahead as well as new capacity in the pipeline. A major contract was awarded at Kyrgyzstan’s largest and oldest facility, Toktogul, which will increase plant capacity from 1,200 to 1,440 MW. In Kazakhstan 61.5 MW of new hydropower capacity was successfully auctioned in 2018, and state-owned Samruk-Energy put the first modernised unit at the Shardarinsk plant back into operation.

Across the border, UzbekHydroEnergo has plans to develop new stations and modernise Uzbekistan’s existing fleet, most of which was built between 30 to 80 years ago. Additionally one of four turbines at the largest facility in Afghanistan, the 100 MW Naghlu plant, was brought back online in 2018 after six years out of service.

Regional interconnections continue to play an important role in Central Asia. For instance Tajik-Uzbek power flows were restored in 2018, with added financing plans to reconnect Tajikistan’s grid to the once-unified Central Asian Power System (CAPS). Countries involved in the CASA 1000 project to interconnect Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan have also made progress in procuring construction contracts.

In Russia, hydropower made up approximately 17 per cent of overall electricity generated in 2018, where modernisation of the installed hydropower fleet is regarded to be a priority. In Siberia, turbine repairs and upgrades were completed at the 3,840 MW Ust-Ilimsk station, improving performance, and are now underway at the 662 MW Irkutsk and 6,000 MW Krasnoyarsk facilities. New capacity has been installed at the Ust-Srednekans plant in the far northeast of Russia totalling 310 MW in 2019, whereas in western Russia the 1,375 MW Saratov station is undergoing modernisation and the 346 MW Zaramagskaya-1 is under construction near the Georgian border.

Ageing hydropower stations in the South Caucasus are being modernised, with notable investments in the 1,300 MW Enguri dam in Georgia and the 424 MW Mingachevir modernisation completed in Azerbaijan in 2018.

In Georgia, hydropower generated almost 10 TWh in 2018, making up 82 per cent of the country’s total generation mix. Added installations in 2018 included the 27 MW Kirnati and 21 MW Old Energy hydropower stations along with smaller-scale projects, while a portfolio of assets is at the planning stage. This includes the 433 MW Namakhvani project being developed by the privately-held Clean Energy Group Georgia, which when complete, promises to raise electricity generation in the country by 15 per cent.

In Iran, new hydropower units are coming online. The last two units at the 210 MW Daryan hydropower station were synchronised to the grid in 2018. The Daryan facility, located in Kermanshah province close to Iran’s western border, includes a multi-purpose reservoir providing irrigation to areas of southwest Iran. The Sardasht project in West Azerbaijan province and the Bakhtiari project on the border of Lorestan and Khuzestan provinces are under construction and when complete will add 1,650 MW to the country’s capacity. Droughts have however affected the Middle East in recent years impacting hydropower production, with lower reservoir levels reported in Iran in summer 2018 compared to previous years.

Picture: Nurek reservoir in Tajikistan. Credit: David Trilling. 

This regional profile is featured in the 2019 Hydropower Status Report. Download the report:

This profile was last updated in May 2019.