As the Centre is targeting to have a total hydro capacity of 75 GW by 2030, the Power Ministry is working on a new policy for the hydro power sector in 2017 to boost the generation of clean energy.
The policy proposes to bring large hydro projects at par with smaller ones in terms of availing various benefits. At present, small hydro projects of up to 25 MW capacities are considered as renewable energy initiatives and are eligible for various incentives by the government in terms of taxation, duties, and also, cheaper credit. “In the planned policy, if we treated all hydro projects regardless of its size as renewable energy, it would be a big boost to large hydro projects, as they also get the benefits that the renewable energy sector is enjoying at present,” an official from the Ministry of Power told DH.
“If we give various benefits to developers of big hydro projects, the power tariff will also come down, and it would become more competitive in the market on the line of wind energy or solar,” he said.
Currently, the hydro sector has an installed capacity around 42,000 MW, and there is a plan to add another 30,000-35,000 MW in next 12 to 13 years. To expedite the capacity addition, the government may give some incentives to developers, said the official adding that the government is working on this issue.
Hydro power projects of around 13,000-MW capacity are stranded due to a number of reasons including court cases, delay in getting environmental clearances, rehabilitation and resettlement issues, and the process are on to address those problems, said the official.
Even a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy recommended to the government that there is an urgent need for a comprehensive plan for alleviating the concerns of the hydro energy sector by providing long-term finances at lower rate, grant of clearances in a time bound matter, development of enabling infrastructure and sensitisation of local people about the benefits of projects development.
The panel headed by BJP Lok Sabha member Virendra Kumar, in its report tabled in Parliament last week, also suggested that the government should give attention to promote hydro projects on the line of solar power projects, which is at present the primary focus area of the NDA government.