Daily Hot Topic

Topic : Hydropower and Peak Power Demand in India

GS-3 Mains : Economy

Revision Notes


  • Ministry of Power optimizes hydropower to meet rising peak demand (240 GW expected in summer).

Renewable Energy Scenario:

  • India is 3rd largest renewable energy producer with 40% installed capacity from non-fossil fuels.
  • Added 18 GW renewable capacity in FY24.
  • Green push reduces emission intensity but challenges peak power with a renewables-heavy grid.
  • Hydropower, coal, and gas are preferred for peak demand.

Hydropower Basics:

  • Oldest and largest renewable energy source using flowing water.
  • Currently generates more electricity than all other renewables combined.
  • Expected to remain the leading renewable source till 2030s.

Hydro Project Classification (India):

  • Micro: Up to 100 KW
  • Mini: 101 KW – 2 MW
  • Small: 2 MW – 25 MW
  • Mega: 500 MW and above

Hydropower in India:

  • 12.5% of power generation in 2022-23.
  • 4745.6 MW pumped storage capacity in 2023.
  • Potential concentrated in hilly states (Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Uttarakhand).
  • Other potential states: Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala.


  • Abundant water resources: Major rivers offer high generation potential.
  • Small-scale projects: Suitable for hilly and remote areas with limited grid access.
  • Storage capacity: Reservoirs enable energy storage for peak demand management.
  • Long lifespan: Hydropower infrastructure can last for over 50 years with proper maintenance.
  • Reliable and predictable: Provides consistent electricity unlike weather-dependent renewables.
  • Clean energy: Minimal greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.


  • Environmental impact: Large dams disrupt ecosystems, fish habitats, and local biodiversity.
  • Social impacts: Construction displaces communities and disrupts livelihoods.
  • High initial costs: Significant upfront investment is required for hydropower facilities.
  • Climate change vulnerability: Reliant on consistent water flow, which can be affected by climate variations.
  • Sedimentation: Dams trap sediment, reducing reservoir capacity and impacting efficiency.
  • Maintenance challenges: Regular maintenance is crucial for safe and efficient operation.

Way Forward:

  • Diversify power sources: Integrate other renewable technologies like solar and wind.
  • Floating solar panels: Innovative approach being explored in China and Brazil.
  • Pumped-storage hydro: Stores excess renewable energy for later use.


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