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Hydroelectricity in India, Definition, Advantages, Limitations


Hydroelectricity refers to the electricity derived from the energy of moving water. It is a renewable source of energy.  Hydroelectricity is produced when moving water rotates a turbine. With the aid of an electrical generator, this movement is transformed into electricity. The power plant where Hydroelectricity is produced is known as a hydroelectric power plant or hydropower plant. In order to produce hydroelectricity dams are constructed on rivers.

Read about: Nuclear Power Plants in India

Hydropower Plants Various Forms

Hydropower facilities come in three different varieties: impoundments, diversion, and pumped storage. Hydropower plants vary in their utilisation of dams.

Impoundment Hydropower Plant

A facility that uses impoundments is the most prevalent type of hydroelectric power plant. A dam is used in an impoundment facility, which is usually a big hydroelectric system, to hold river water in a reservoir. Released water from the reservoir spins a turbine as it passes through, starting a generator that generates power.

Diversion Hydropower Plant

A diversion, also known as a run-of-river facility, directs a river’s flow down a canal or penstock and into a turbine, turning the turbine to turn on a generator that generates energy. It might not be necessary to use a dam.

Pumped Storage Hydropower Plant

This method, which functions like a battery, stores the electricity produced by alternative energy sources including solar, wind, and nuclear power for later use. A pumped storage plant stores energy by moving water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir during times of low electricity demand. When there is a significant demand for energy, the water is discharged back into the lower reservoir where it acts as a turbine and produces electricity.

Hydroelectricity in India

Over 53% of India’s electricity was generated using hydropower in 1947, which accounted for about 37% of the country’s overall power-generating capability. The fall in hydropower’s share of capacity and generation began in the late 1960s as coal-based power generation increased. 46,512 MW (megawatts) of hydropower capacity, or around 11.7 per cent of total capacity, was available in 2022. In 2020–21, hydropower generated around 12% of all electricity. There are 197 Hydropower plants in India.

Hydropower Sites Global Distribution

The United States of America and Canada are the world’s top hydroelectric power producers.

Region Details
North America The Appalachian Fall line, the Great Lake Falls-St. Lawrence canal, Niagara Falls and St. Anthony in Minneapolis, the Rocky Mountains, and the Laurentian shield are all notable natural hydel power sites.
Europe Italy, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland produce the majority of Europe’s hydroelectric electricity.
Asia Japan, India, Shanghai and Guangzhou in China, and Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.
South America Brazil is the top generator. Paulo-Alfonso facility, located on the San Francisco River is an important hydropower plant.
Africa Aswan Dam in Egypt, Akosombo Dam in Ghana, and Sennar Dam in Sudan.
Hydropower Sites Global Distribution
Hydropower Sites Global Distribution

Hydroelectricity Benefits

  • Hydroelectricity uses water to generate electricity rather than consuming it, hydropower is a renewable source of energy that frees up this essential resource for other purposes.
  • Since there are no consumables required and it is a renewable source of energy, there aren’t many ongoing expenses to worry about.
  • Compared to electricity produced by coal and gas-fired power plants, it is less expensive. Because it doesn’t require fossil fuels, it is also more dependable and doesn’t generate financial losses from frequency changes.
  • Due to its special ability for swift starting and closure, hydropower stations are the favoured solution for addressing peak loads in grids.
  • The operational requirements of hydroelectric and thermal power plants are complementary, and a well-balanced blend promotes the best use of available resources.
  • The seasonal load curves of regional grids and the pattern of hydropower generation are identical. A heavy agricultural workload causes hydroelectric power plants to produce more electricity during the summer and monsoon seasons when the system has a high load factor.
  • Thermal stations operating at base load and hydro stations operating at peak load during the winter will handle weather-beating loads.

Hydroelectricity Limitations

  • Due to possible opposition from the tribal people, the hydroelectric power potential from the Godavari, Mahanadi, Nagavali, Vamsadhara, and Narmada river basins has not been extensively explored in central India.
  • However, hydropower’s contribution to the creation of electricity has been declining over time, making up only around 10% of total production, with the majority (80%) coming from thermal generation.
  • Due to lengthy land acquisition and resettlement processes, difficult planning procedures, a lack of enabling infrastructure, such as transmission, an inadequate market size, and long-term finance, many contemporary hydropower projects have experienced delays.
  • India has a large number of dormant hydropower projects (HEPs) as a result of environmental litigation, local unrest, financial strain, and uninterested purchasers.
  • Only an additional 10,000 MW of hydropower could have been added over the previous ten years. Due to the fact that water and water power are State-related issues, conflicts between riparian States regularly cause the construction of HEPs to be delayed; the Subansiri HEP is an excellent example of this.

Hydroelectricity UPSC

There are 197 Hydropower plants in India. India started to gain power at the end of the 19th century. The Sidrapong Hydropower facility, a hydroelectricity project, was inaugurated in Darjeeling in 1897. And in 1902, a hydroelectric power plant in Karnataka’s Sivasamudram was put into operation. For the UPSC exams, hydroelectricity is an important topic that can be found in General Studies.

Other Indian Geography Topics

Seasons of India Mountains of India
Mangrove Forests in India Important Mountain Passes in India
Monsoon in India
Indus River System
Climate of India
Rivers of India
Tributaries of Ganga
National Parks in India
Important Dams in India
Wildlife Sanctuaries of India
Tiger Reserves in India
Northern Plains of India
Physiography of India
Important Lakes of India
Wetlands in India
Biodiversity in India
Natural Vegetation in India Earthquakes in India
Types of Soil in India
Ramsar Sites in India
Brahmaputra River System
Hydropower Plants in India
Nuclear Power Plants in India
Major Ports in India
Biosphere Reserves in India
Waterfalls in India

Other Fundamental Geography Topics

Solar System Types of Clouds
Structure of the Atmosphere Himalayan Ranges
Component of Environment
El Nino and La Nina
Coral Reef
Continental Drift Theory
Endogenic and Exogenic Forces
Indian Ocean Region
Pacific Ocean
Indian Ocean Dipole
Air Pollution
Environmental Impact Assessment
Tropical Cyclone
Western Disturbances
Types of Rocks

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What is meant by hydroelectricity?

Hydroelectric energy, also known as hydroelectric power or hydroelectricity, is a type of energy that generates electricity by using the force of moving water, such as water running down a waterfall. People have been using this force for a very long time.

How does hydroelectricity work?

Water is circulated through a pipe, also known as a penstock, at the plant level, turning a turbine's blades, turning a generator, and producing energy. Most traditional hydroelectric facilities, including pumped storage and run-of-the-river systems, function in this way.

What is hydroelectricity and why is it important?

A renewable energy source is hydropower. Given that it depends on the water cycle, which is fuelled by sunlight, hydropower is a renewable energy source. Hydropower is a clean source of energy because it is powered by water.

What are the benefits of hydroelectricity?

Hydropower benefits communities in many ways than just providing electricity, jobs, and development. Hydropower has a special capacity for flexibility and energy storage. It gives the electricity system stability and can quickly fulfil rising demand. Additionally, it can store water for agriculture and aid in flood prevention.

How is hydroelectricity made?

A typical dam stores water behind it in a reservoir or lake that was created by humans. When water is let out of the dam, it rotates a turbine that is connected to an electricity-generating generator.

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