13 GW hydel projects coming up in Arunachal, will quadruple per capita income: RK Singh

RK Singh said that hydro power projects totalling 13 GW will come up in Arunachal Pradesh which will provide clean power to the nation
13 GW hydel projects coming up in Arunachal, will quadruple per capita income: RK Singh
13 GW hydel projects coming up in Arunachal, will quadruple per capita income: RK SinghEnergy Watch

New Delhi: Stating that round-the-clock (RTC) renewable energy (RE) is not possible without hydro power, Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy RK Singh said that hydro power projects totalling 13 GW will come up in Arunachal Pradesh which will provide clean power to the nation. Interacting with the media, Singh said that India’s hydro power capacity is increasing and besides Subansiri hydropower project, which is a large project, the government of Arunachal Pradesh has entered into MoUs with central public sector undertakings for 13 projects, which will amount to a hydroelectric capacity of 13,000 MW in Arunachal.

“These projects will bring in investment of around Rs. 1.4 lakh crore in the state, resulting in quadrupling of per capita income. And the nation will get clean power,” said Singh. The minister was on a visit to review the construction of 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project located in Arunachal Pradesh/Assam on November 27. During the visit, Singh inspected the Subansiri project construction sites, dam, intake structures and diversion tunnels in Gerukamukh, Assam. He took stock of the ongoing construction activities and was briefed about the progress. Later in the day, the Power Minister took a review meeting wherein he was briefed about the various steps taken to address the challenges in the project. Addressing NHPC officials and representatives of contractors of major works, Singh instructed everyone to work with maximum zeal to complete the project as per schedule.

The project is being developed by NHPC Limited and has been stuck since the 2000s due to stiff opposition from locals. It is the biggest hydropower project being developed in the North-East, which has been identified as one of the most seismic areas and a biodiversity hotspot. Locals have expressed concerns about the impact the dam will have on the ecosystem.

RTC renewable energy is not possible without hydro: RK Singh

Expressing satisfaction with the review of the project, the minister told the media that the importance of hydel projects has increased since round-the-clock renewable energy is not possible with hydro power. “I went into all the details and I believe that by and large, the project is progressing as it should. The importance of hydro projects has increased since we need to make energy transition, reduce emissions and move to renewables. While we have solar and wind too among renewables, round-the-clock renewable energy is not possible without hydro. Our hydro capacity is increasing,” said Singh.

Need to utilise more of our available hydel power: Minister

The minister spoke of the efforts being taken to better tap into the available hydro power capacity of the country. “Today, our hydro power capacity is 47,000 MW, which is 35 percent of our available hydro power potential. Developed countries however have utilised around 70-80 percent of their available hydro potential,” said the Power Minister.

Singh told the media how India’s power demand is growing and this requires the addition of power capacity at a fast pace. “Our power demand grew by 20 percent in August, September and October 2023, relative to the previous year. Our demand will keep growing at this rate, since according to NITI Aayog, our economy will keep growing at 7.5 percent for next two decades. The peak demand in 2013 was around 1.35 lakh MW, while today it is around 2.31 lakh MW. Our power demand will become double by 2030; our total consumption today is 1,600 billion units, which will become around 3,000 billion units. However, even now, our power consumption is low compared to developed countries. Europe’s per capita power consumption is around three times that of ours today. Our challenge hence is to add power capacity as fast as the growth in our power demand,” he said.

The Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister said, “Our under-construction capacity in renewables is around 70,000 MW, while in thermal, it is 27,000 MW. However, we are going to add another 53,000 MW to under-construction thermal capacity so that we are able to meet the power demand of 2030.” By and large, whichever state asks us for power, we are providing and will continue to provide them, added the minister.

Singh said that India has become a world leader in energy transition and that India has been pursuing a path of responsible growth. “In COP21 in Paris, we had committed to making 40 percent of our capacity non-fossil fuel source-based by 2030; we achieved this target in 2021, nine years in advance. Hence, we are growing faster than developed countries. Developed countries have become developed by using fossil fuels. Hence, if we need to use fossil fuels for our growth, and we will use it. Our per capita carbon emissions are one-third of the global average, while per capita greenhouse gas emissions of developed countries are three times that of the global average. Around 80 percent of the carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere due to which there has been a rise in global temperature is due to the emissions by developed countries, while our contribution to the cumulative load is just 3 percent and our population is 17 percent of the world population,” said Singh.

13 GW hydel projects coming up in Arunachal, will quadruple per capita income: RK Singh
Landslide blocks diversion tunnel at NHPC's Subansiri hydro project

The minister was accompanied on his visit to Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project by Union Power Secretary Pankaj Agarwal, NHPC CMD RK Vishnoi, Joint Secretary (Hydro) Mohammad Afzal, NHPC Director (Projects) Biswajit Basu, NHPC Director (Technical) RK Chaudhary, and Subansiri Lower Project head Rajendra Prasad.

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