What's the article about?
- It talks about the reconsideration of the Hydro-power projects in the Himalaya after Joshimath crisis
- GS1: Geography of India; Important Geophysical Phenomena;
- The Joshimath crisis has led to conversations on the relevance of hydropower in the Himalayan region.
- Though hydropower is considered a clean source of energy, it does have huge environmental and social costs that must be considered while planning them.
What is the Joshimath crisis?
Causes for the Joshimath Crisis?
Importance of Himalayan region to ensure water and energy security:
- The Himalaya is a major water source for much of South Asia.
- Most countries in the region, including India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan, have built or are planning to build hydropower projects in the Himalaya.
- In India, the government has identified hydropower as a key renewable energy source.
- Nepal has also identified hydropower as a major source of energy.
- In Bhutan, hydropower is the main source of revenue, and the government has set a target to export surplus electricity to India.
The cost of hydropower:
- Hydropower is often considered green energy because it generates electricity from the natural flow of water without releasing any emissions or pollutants. It also does not rely on fossil fuels.
- However, the environmental impact of hydropower can vary depending on projects and the ways in which they are implemented.
- Large-scale hydroelectric dams impact local ecosystems and communities — they displace people (social cost) and result in loss of habitat for fish and other wildlife.
- The building and maintenance of large hydroelectric dams can also have a significant environmental impact.
Negative impacts of hydropower on the environment:
- The construction of dams can disrupt the flow of rivers, leading to changes in water temperature and chemistry.
- It can also cause erosion, landslides, and sedimentation which can have a negative impact on the local environment.
- Dams also disrupt the migration patterns of fish and other aquatic species and impact the local wildlife, particularly if the dam’s construction leads to habitat loss.
- Large-scale hydroelectric dams displace local communities, affecting their livelihoods and cultural heritage and impacting the overall well-being of the local population.
Solution lies in Micro hydro systems:
- Micro hydro is a small-scale hydroelectric power generation system that typically generates up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of electricity.
- These systems use the energy of falling water to turn a turbine, which, in turn, generates electricity.
- They can be used for various applications, including powering homes, businesses, and small communities.
- They have a smaller environmental footprint.
- They can be located even in inaccessible areas where it is difficult to transmit electricity from larger power stations, and they can provide a reliable source of energy to communities that are not connected to the grid.
- Micro hydro systems can be classified into two main types: run-of-river and storage systems.
- Run-of-river systems use the natural flow of water in a stream or river to generate electricity.
- In contrast, storage systems use a reservoir to store water and release it as needed to generate electricity.
- The recent Joshimath crisis in the Himalaya necessitates a relook at the present development model. The Micro hydro systems can be a viable solution.
- However, it’s important to note that even micro-hydropower projects can have some impact on the environment and local communities.
- A detailed assessment should be carried out to evaluate the potential impact before proceeding with the project.