India to commence major hydropower project near China border
POWER & RENEWABLE ENERGY

India to commence major hydropower project near China border

India is on the verge of commencing a massive hydropower project that has been under development for two decades, marking a significant milestone in the country's energy transition.

According to Rajendra Prasad Goyal, the finance director of NHPC, a state-run hydropower company, trial runs for the Subansiri Lower project will begin in July. The project traverses the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in the northeastern region of India. The first unit is scheduled to be commissioned in December, while all eight units are expected to be operational by the end of 2024.

Hydropower plays a crucial role in balancing the electricity grid, as it can swiftly respond to fluctuations in power demand, particularly as the intermittent generation of solar and wind power increases. However, the 2-gigawatt project, which was initiated in 2003, faced delays due to protests and legal disputes arising from concerns about environmental damage.

The project's cost surged to Rs 212.5 billion, more than triple the initial estimate. In 2019, the National Green Tribunal allowed the project to resume after an eight-year suspension. Opposition to dam construction has resulted in India harnessing only about one-third of its potential hydropower capacity of 145 gigawatts.

Goyal emphasised the need to obtain approximately 40 approvals from various departments before commencing the construction of a hydropower project. He stated that thorough scrutiny should be conducted at this stage to avoid any interruptions once construction is underway.

Large dams also serve as a means for India to stimulate local economies in regions along its tense borders with China and Pakistan. As the Subansiri project nears completion, NHPC is finalising plans to award construction contracts for the 2.9-gigawatt Dibang project, which is India's largest planned hydropower plant.

To promote hydropower, the government has granted large dams the status of clean energy. This mandates provincial power distributors to prioritise the purchase of hydropower over electricity generated from fossil fuels. In certain cases, the government has agreed to provide budgetary support for civil construction and flood moderation work.

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India is on the verge of commencing a massive hydropower project that has been under development for two decades, marking a significant milestone in the country's energy transition. According to Rajendra Prasad Goyal, the finance director of NHPC, a state-run hydropower company, trial runs for the Subansiri Lower project will begin in July. The project traverses the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in the northeastern region of India. The first unit is scheduled to be commissioned in December, while all eight units are expected to be operational by the end of 2024. Hydropower plays a crucial role in balancing the electricity grid, as it can swiftly respond to fluctuations in power demand, particularly as the intermittent generation of solar and wind power increases. However, the 2-gigawatt project, which was initiated in 2003, faced delays due to protests and legal disputes arising from concerns about environmental damage. The project's cost surged to Rs 212.5 billion, more than triple the initial estimate. In 2019, the National Green Tribunal allowed the project to resume after an eight-year suspension. Opposition to dam construction has resulted in India harnessing only about one-third of its potential hydropower capacity of 145 gigawatts. Goyal emphasised the need to obtain approximately 40 approvals from various departments before commencing the construction of a hydropower project. He stated that thorough scrutiny should be conducted at this stage to avoid any interruptions once construction is underway. Large dams also serve as a means for India to stimulate local economies in regions along its tense borders with China and Pakistan. As the Subansiri project nears completion, NHPC is finalising plans to award construction contracts for the 2.9-gigawatt Dibang project, which is India's largest planned hydropower plant. To promote hydropower, the government has granted large dams the status of clean energy. This mandates provincial power distributors to prioritise the purchase of hydropower over electricity generated from fossil fuels. In certain cases, the government has agreed to provide budgetary support for civil construction and flood moderation work.

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