ARKANSAS, Dec 17 (Future Headlines)- As the world intensifies its focus on renewable energy, regional strategies become crucial in achieving sustainable and diversified energy portfolios. Tamil Nadu, a pioneer in wind energy generation in India, is now exploring avenues to further enhance its renewable energy output. Experts and industry insiders are advocating the development of small hydroelectric plants as a strategic move to amplify Tamil Nadu’s renewable energy capacity.

Tamil Nadu has been a frontrunner in embracing renewable energy, particularly through its vast wind farms that dot its landscape. However, as the energy landscape evolves, the need for diversification becomes apparent. According to recent data from the union government, Tamil Nadu stands in stark contrast to its neighboring state, Karnataka, in terms of small hydroelectric plants. While Karnataka boasts an impressive 4,500 small hydroelectric plants, Tamil Nadu lags significantly behind with only 123.

The data underscores the untapped potential in Tamil Nadu’s hydropower sector, specifically in the realm of small hydroelectric projects. At present, Tamil Nadu has a hydropower capacity of 2,321.90 MW, but the primary focus has traditionally been on larger-scale projects. The call to shift attention to small hydropower projects, particularly those below 20 megawatts, emerges as a strategic recommendation from experts.

Karnataka’s success in implementing small hydroelectric projects serves as a blueprint for Tamil Nadu. The neighboring state’s proactive approach in initiating small projects within the Cauvery and Krishna basins has resulted in the establishment of 4,500 small hydroelectric plants. This stark disparity prompts a reevaluation of Tamil Nadu’s strategy, with a particular emphasis on the economic and environmental benefits associated with small-scale hydroelectric initiatives.

One of the key advantages of small hydroelectric plants is their adaptability to various geographic locations. Unlike large-scale projects that might face geographical constraints, small hydroelectric stations can be strategically positioned at reservoirs like Mettur, Bhavani Sagar, and Vaigai. By harnessing power from runoff water in these reservoirs, Tamil Nadu can tap into a decentralized and sustainable energy source.

Hydroelectric power has long been recognized for its economic viability and minimal environmental impact compared to conventional sources. According to industry insiders, hydroelectric power costs less than a rupee when juxtaposed with thermal power and wind energy. The economic feasibility of small hydroelectric plants positions them as attractive options for Tamil Nadu’s energy landscape.

A Tangedco (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) official has proposed a pragmatic approach to leverage hydroelectric power effectively. Storing water in specific reservoir areas during the monsoon season can serve as a reservoir for cost-effective power generation throughout the year. This approach not only optimizes the utilization of water resources but also enhances the reliability and stability of power generation.

The push towards renewable energy sources aligns with global initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and achieve zero-carbon goals. Tamil Nadu, being a major player in wind energy generation in India, has a pivotal role to play in contributing to these sustainability objectives. Increasing the number of hydropower stations, especially small-scale projects, emerges as a strategic move to economically bolster the utility while mitigating environmental pollution.

E. Natarajan, the state general secretary of Bharathiya Electricity Engineers Association, emphasizes the critical role of harnessing renewable energy in achieving a zero-carbon goal by 2030. He underscores Tamil Nadu’s significant contribution to wind energy generation in the country but advocates for an expansion into hydropower to further diversify the energy mix.

While the prospect of expanding small hydroelectric projects in Tamil Nadu holds promise, it is essential to navigate potential challenges associated with environmental impact and regulatory considerations. Striking a balance between progress and environmental sustainability requires a comprehensive approach that considers the ecological sensitivity of the region.

Environmental impact assessments, stakeholder consultations, and adherence to stringent regulatory frameworks are essential components of responsible and sustainable project development. By incorporating these considerations into the planning and execution of small hydroelectric projects, Tamil Nadu can unlock its renewable potential while upholding environmental conservation principles.

The journey towards harnessing the untapped potential of small hydroelectric projects in Tamil Nadu demands strategic planning and collaborative efforts. Government agencies, energy corporations, environmental organizations, and local communities must come together to formulate a roadmap that prioritizes sustainable energy development.

The success of Karnataka in embracing small hydroelectric projects serves as an inspiration, demonstrating the economic, environmental, and social benefits that can be reaped through diversified energy initiatives. As Tamil Nadu charts its course towards a renewable-powered future, small hydroelectric plants emerge as catalysts for change, driving economic growth, ensuring energy security, and contributing to global sustainability goals.

Editing by Sarah White