Short essay on Hydro-Electricity Potential
India has vast potentials of hydro-electricity. In his preliminary survey J.W. Mears (1921) estimated this potential at 3,500 mw with a maximum of 8,000 mw. The Central Water and Power Commission (1958) estimated hydro-electric potential at 41,156 mw at 60 per cent load factor. Its maximum concentration is found (30.3%) in the Brahmaputra basin and east flowing rivers of south India (21%).
The Report of the Power Economy Committee (1971) assessed this potential at 50,000 mw while Prasad Committee overestimated it to 100,000 mw.
The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) on the basis of 60% load factor estimated hydel potential at 76,200 mw (1984-85) whose 36.5% lies in the northern, 26.5% in north-eastern, 17.2% in southern, 10% in western and 9.8% in the eastern regions. According to the latest estimate of Central Water and Power Commission and Central Electricity Authority the total hydel potential is 84,000 mw of which only 20% has so far been exploited.
Maximum potential of hydro-electricity is found in the Himalayan region from Jammu and Kashmir in the west to the north-eastern states in the east.
This region provides about half of the hydel potentials of the country. Here high rainfall and thick snow cover on mountain peaks originate many swift flowing perennial streams which pass through narrow gorges where dam could be easily built to generate electricity. But absence of sufficient number of waterfalls, rugged terrain and distance from consumer centers are some of the negative factors. Western Ghats and central highlands of the Peninsular India constitute the area of moderate potential. On the contrary Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal have low hydro power potential.