Small hydro: Too small for a national mission - The need for an assimilated national mission for renewable energy in India

India has set high targets for solar energy through its Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. However, this may take focus away from other renewable energy sources, especially small hydro which is a high density resource. This brief by the Observer Research Foundation examines whether small hydro qualifies for a national mission.


Photo of a small hydropower plant

 Small hydropower plant  (Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy)

Solar energy ranks the lowest in terms of financial viability, capacity addition, and grid application. It is therefore difficult to justify the thrust given to it through a national mission. Against that background, this paper examines other non-conventional sources.

This brief begins by narrating the history of small hydropower in India. The current status and prospects are detailed, both on a national scale and as per the states. The merits and demerits of small hydro are examined from both objective (financial etc) and subjective (social etc) criteria.

However, any argument in favour of a separate national mission for small hydro can also be made-equally convincingly- for other renewable technologies. The paper concludes that there is a necessity to develop all renewable technologies without giving preference to any one. Rather than on a particular technology, attention needs to be focused on applying the integrated resource development approach to renewable energy with its principle of decentralised, site-appropriate interventions.

Download the entire paper here.

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