We may all believe that wind or solar power is the most powerful renewable energy source available to us. Contrary to this popular belief, however, it is water-based energy that is most relied upon as an energy source in India. We currently have an installed capacity of 45,000 MW for hydropower. It stands at approximately 52% of India’s total renewable energy capacity. There are also plans to increase the capacity to 75,000 MW by 2030. It is not only India, but other countries in the world depend on hydropower as the primary source of renewable energy. This bias is not just due to geographical assets, but also because it is cheap, easily stored, and produced with no combustion.
Hydropower is the most powerful renewable energy not just because of all the reasons listed before, however. It also has the potential to benefit us in an eco-friendly manner. Even as it currently stands, hydropower provides us with energy with some environmental costs. There are innovations in the field of hydropower, however, that could change how it interacts with nature. These innovations could make it safer for both the environment and water-based organisms, while safely producing energy for us.
For example, changes in the turbine blades could ensure that fishes and other water-based organisms aren’t in danger as the turbines generate more power. There are also innovations ensuring that turbines are not negatively affected by unpredictable rainfall. When combined with smarter systems, these turbines can be controlled according to the timing and quantity of water flow. With a modern hydropower system, in turn, hydropower projects can be made climate-resilient making watersheds more adaptable.
Smart information systems can be paired with satellite imagery to help hydropower operators keep an eye on watershed conditions. This in turn can help them forecast water flow. With changing conditions on the ground, this system can create real-time virtual models of surrounding areas to enable more accurate water forecasts. Compared to the conventional hydropower system, this innovation will ensure that generating energy can be environmentally sustainable.
As we grow further into the future, we have begun to move closer to nature with renewable energy and cleaner means of living. Other innovations in energy generation can see hydropower projects mimicking nature as well. The cascades that mimic beaver structure can reduce the speed of the water. These cascades will also create small ponds and wetlands along the way, providing enough time for the excess water to seep into the ground. This in turn increases groundwater storage, further helping watersheds.
This nature-mimicking system has the added benefit of restoring river connectivity for water-based lives and other wildlife. Aiding nature to grow will enhance water supply and agricultural productivity to increase. Hydropower projects will not only support the populace with electricity but also support their livelihoods while supporting natural resources around the locale.
The dependence on electricity generated from hydropower has increased because of the maintenance requirements during the pandemic. Hydropower plants can supply electricity to the grid immediately, however, and with these innovations, they can truly be the most powerful and reliable source of renewable energy available for India.