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Impact of climate change: India's hydropower generation drops by 20%, by 45% in western region: SANDRP

By Our Representative
Well-known civil rights organization, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), in a recent scrutiny, has said that “India’s hydropower generation has dropped by up to close to 20% compared to previous year in some of the months this year, even as installed capacity of hydropower projects keeps climbing relentlessly.”
“According to monthly generation figures from Central Electricity Authority, even as installed capacity of hydropower projects went up by 1516 MW in last one year, the power generation from hydropower projects dropped by 10.82%, 19.19%, 17.7% and 15.92% during February, March, April and May 2016 respectively at all India level, compared to the figures in the same months in 2015”, SANDRP says.
Pointing out that “power generation during financial year 2015-16 was 6.09% below the figure in 2014-15”, SANDRP says, “During 2014-15 itself was 4.16% lower than that in 2013-14, so if we compare with 2013-14, power generation in 2015-16 went down by a huge 10%.”
“In absolute terms the reduction of power generation from 2013-14 to 2015-16 was 13475 million units or even if we assume the price at paltry Rs 3 per unit, the loss is Rs 4041 crore”, SANDRP says, adding, “ This calculation does not take into account the additional capacity of around 2300 MW added in these two years.”
Providing a regional breakup, SANDRP says, power generation of hydropower projects of Western India, which has an installed capacity of 7392 MW, “reduced by 39.29%, 45.26% and 42.35% in March, April and May 2016 respectively compared to the same a year back.”
SANDRP believes “While reduction in power generation from hydropower projects during drought years is expected, the quantum of reduction, of up to 46% regionally and 20% nationally, should be raising concerns, when the previous year generation had already seen a drop so we are comparing with lower base.”
In South India, with an installed capacity of 11477.7 MW, the reduction for the three years was 34.26%, 18.1% and 46.6%, while in Northern Region, with the installed capacity at 18320.27 MW, saw power generation reduce by 6.43%, 14.73% and 7.22% in the three months, it adds.
Pointing out that “the reliability of hydropower projects in comes into question, since in changing climate, both droughts and floods are going to increase in frequency and intensity”, SANDRP says, “Here it should be noted that Union Power Minister recently declared that for the first time in history, India will be power surplus in 2016-17 and will not need any additional power capacity for next three years.”
Underlining that “India’s renewable power (solar + wind = 42850 MW) installed capacity has already gone past the hydro installed capacity (42783 MW) on April 30, 2016”, SANRDP says, “Since the renewable installed capacity is increasing at much faster rate, hydro installed capacity is bound to remain at much lower level than renewable installed capacity for years to come.”
“Globally, in 2015, hydropower added only a fifth of the installed capacity added through solar and wind, but as investments in solar and wind are rising much faster, they are eating into the available investments for hydro among others, so this trend of diminishing hydro capacity addition is only going to accentuate”, SANDRP says.

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