• India is committed to achieving GHG neutrality, or Net Zero, by 2070 as part of its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.
  • Hydropower, established over a century ago, has proven to be a reliable, cost-effective, and low-carbon energy source, currently generating more electricity than all other renewable sources combined.
  • Hydropower generates energy by harnessing the flow of water through a turbine, causing it to rotate and produce electricity.


  • According to Ember, a UK-based energy think tank, hydropower is the largest renewable source of electricity globally, with a 70% increase in output over the last two decades. However, its global output saw a historic decrease in the first half of 2023.
  • China, the leading hydroelectricity producer, accounted for three-quarters of this global reduction. Severe droughts in 2022 and 2023 led to dried-up rivers and reservoirs, resulting in power shortages and the need for electricity rationing.
  • Data indicates that droughts, likely exacerbated by climate change, caused an 8.5% decline in global hydroelectricity during this period.
  • Countries heavily dependent on hydropower are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts. For instance, hydropower generates over 80% of electricity in nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia, all facing severe droughts.
  • To mitigate these vulnerabilities, it is essential for these countries to diversify their energy sources by incorporating other renewable technologies such as wind and solar power.


  • Despite the climatic risks associated with hydropower, it is expected to continue playing a crucial role in decarbonizing the global economy.
  • Constructing more medium-scale hydropower facilities, as opposed to megadams, can help reduce the climatic risks linked to dependence on single large infrastructure projects.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that while wind and solar energy will eventually surpass hydropower, it will remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation until the 2030s.

Examples in the Indian Context:

  • India’s ambitious renewable energy targets include significant investments in hydropower projects, such as the development of the 2880
  • MW Dibang Multipurpose Project in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In regions like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, hydropower plays a vital role in local economies and electricity supply, though these areas also face challenges from changing climate patterns.
  • Diversification efforts are evident with India’s increasing focus on solar power, exemplified by the establishment of large solar parks such as the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan, reducing reliance on any single renewable source.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 28, 2024