India’s policy on pumped hydro storage soon, says power minister

India’s power and renewable energy minister R K Singh confirmed that a pumped hydro storage policy for which 63 projects with 96 gigawatts (GW) capacity have already been identified will be announced soon.

“We already have about 5,000 megawatt (MW) of installed capacity and 1,500 MW capacity under installation for pumped hydro. We have identified 63 projects with a potential capacity of 96 GW, the policy will encourage pumped storage,” said Singh at a virtual press conference.

Pumped-storage hydropower is a type of hydroelectric energy storage, which is a configuration of two water reservoirs at different elevations that can generate power as water moves down through a turbine; this draws power as it pumps water (recharge) to the upper reservoir.

There are many advantages to this energy storage system as they are flexible and reliable. The pumped storage plants can react to network fluctuations in the shortest possible time by generating the required electricity or by absorbing any excess.

It can reserve output at low wind or even when there is less sunshine. They are called the “Green battery” and is perhaps the only possibility of storing energy in an economically viable, large-scale way.

The minister said that the power ministry has been working on the policy and a paper will be available to him in another 20 days. “We will have to encourage people to invest in it, our hydro public sector units will also invest in it,” the minister added.

Singh also spoke about a new scheme on green tariff mechanism which is under examination. Under this, discoms will be able to supply green power to industries through a separate green tariff.

“Green tariff mechanism will be an enabling set of rules where the discoms can buy green energy and supply that to industries who ask for it at tariffs which are estimated to be lower than those for fossil fuel energy,” he said.

This separate tariff will be the weighted average of the cost of procurement of green energy, he added.

Further, the Minister also said that there are plans underway to expand offshore wind energy, which initially would be expensive like solar but has huge potential. For this, a provision of viability gap funding may be required.

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