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Hydropower offers hopes of Indian energy security – report

Given India's tight domestic coal supply and increasing reliance on imported coal, hydro capacity provides the country with greater energy security, according to a new report.

Increasing India's hydropower capacity is one the government’s ambitious plans to modernise its power infrastructure

Increasing hydropower generation capacity could help strengthen India's energy security amid threats of coal shortages, claims a new report.

Many hydro power projects are grappling with delays and cost overruns, mainly due to geological as well as geopolitical obstacles, according to HSBC Global Research’s recent report on the Indian hydro power sector.

Going by estimates, hydro power makes up for little over 20 per cent of the country's total installed capacity of more than 1,90,000 MW, it found.

The hydro capacity addition was revised to about 8,200 MW from earlier target of 15,600 MW in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12). However, the actual capacity added during that period is estimated to be around 5,400 MW.

"Indeed, the hydro portion of national capacity has actually fallen in the last few decades, because of the long gestation period required for hydro projects due to terrain complexity and geopolitical issues of the areas in which the projects are located," the report pointed out.

In India, hydro power generation begin around March and peaks in September. The electricity production, however, comes down during winter season.

At present, the policy for hydro power is focused on building run off the river plants. Consequently, many of the projects are located in the Himalayan states; sensitive in terms of environmental and geopolitical factors.

The report noted that hydro projects can also rake in higher earnings through Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

In the 12th Five-Year Plan, the country is expected to see a hydro power capacity addition of more than 13,400 MW. Out of the total target, private sector is anticipated to account for about 3,640 MW.