Importance of Hydel projects has increased, round-the-clock renewable energy not possible without hydro: Power Minister

The Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy RK Singh visited the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project located in Arunachal Pradesh/Assam. The Minister inspected the Subansiri project construction sites, namely the dam, intake structures and diversion tunnels in Gerukamukh, Assam. He took stock of the ongoing construction activities and was briefed about the progress. Later in the day, the Power Minister took a review meeting wherein he was briefed about the various steps taken to address the challenges in the project. Addressing NHPC officials and representatives of contractors of major works, the RK Singh instructed everyone to work with maximum zeal to complete the project as per schedule.

Expressing satisfaction with the review of the project, the Minister told the media that the importance of hydel projects has increased since round-the-clock renewable energy is not possible with hydro power. “I went into all the details and I believe that by and large, the project is progressing as it should. The importance of hydro projects has increased since we need to make energy transition, reduce emissions and move to renewables. While we have solar and wind too among renewables, round-the-clock renewable energy is not possible without hydro. Our hydro capacity is increasing.”

“13,000 MW Hydel Power Capacity coming up in Arunachal, will make per capita income 4 times”

Informing the media that India’s hydro power capacity is increasing, the Minister said that besides Subansiri which is a large project, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has entered into MoUs with central public sector undertakings for 13 projects, which will amount to a hydroelectric capacity of 13,000 MW in Arunachal. “These projects will bring in investment of around Rs. 1.4 lakh crore in the state, resulting in quadrupling of per capita income. And the nation will get clean power.” Similarly, five hydel projects are under construction in Jammu & Kashmir; hence, our hydro potential in J&K too is moving ahead and a lot of investment is coming in, added Shri Singh.

“Need to utilize more of our available hydel power”

The Minister spoke of the efforts being taken to better tap into the available hydro power capacity of the country. “Today, our hydro power capacity is 47,000 MW, which is 35% of our available hydro power potential. Developed countries however have utilized around 70% – 80% of their available hydro potential.”

RK Singh told the media how India’s power demand is growing and this requires addition of power capacity at a fast pace. “Our power demand grew by 20% in August, September and October 2023, relative to the previous year. Our demand will keep growing at this rate, since according to NITI Aayog, our economy will keep growing at 7.5% for next two decades. The peak demand in 2013 was around 1.35 lakh MW, while today it is around 2.31 lakh MW. Our power demand will become double by 2030; our total consumption today is 1,600 billion units, which will become around 3,000 billion units. However, even now, our power consumption is low compared to developed countries; Europe’s per capita power consumption is around 3 times that of ours today. Our challenge hence is to add power capacity as fast as the growth in our power demand.”

The Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister explained that India is growing fast and adding power capacity to address the challenge of growing power demand. “Earlier, we were a power deficit nation, but the government has added power capacity of 1.9 lakh MW in the last nine and a half years. Now, we have sufficient power and we are also exporting to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal. Our under-construction capacity in renewables is around 70,000 MW, while in thermal, it is 27,000 MW. However, we are going to add another 53,000 MW to under-construction thermal capacity so that we are able to meet the power demand of 2030.” By and large, whichever state asks us for power, we are providing and will continue to provide them, added the Minister.

RK Singh said that India has become a world leader in energy transition and that India has been pursuing a path of responsible growth. “In COP21 in Paris, we had committed to make 40% of our capacity to be from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030; we achieved this target in 2021, nine years in advance. Hence, we are growing faster than developed countries.  Developed countries have become developed by using fossil fuels. Hence, if we need to use fossil fuels for our growth, we will use it. Our per capita carbon emissions are one third of global average; while per capita greenhouse gas emissions of developed countries are three times that of global average. 80% of the carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere due to which there has been a rise in global temperature is due to the emissions by developed countries, while our contribution to the cumulative load is just 3% and our population is 17% of world population.”

The Minister was accompanied in his visit to Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project, by Union Power Secretary Pankaj Agarwal; CMD, NHPC, RK Vishnoi; Joint Secretary (Hydro), Ministry of Power, Mohammad Afzal; Director (Projects), NHPC, Biswajit Basu; Director (Technical), NHPC, RK Chaudhary; and HOP, Subansiri Lower Project, Rajendra Prasad.