Top researchers from IIT Roorkee in India and HydroCen Norway pool their resources to develop hydropower innovation and contribute to India’s rising need for renewable energy.
During a round table conference in New Delhi this week representatives from NTNU and IIT Roorkee exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the two universities will collaborate on several activities, such as laboratory testing, turbine design development and student-exchange.
— Hydropower has a lot of potential in India, and a lot more needs to be done. In that sense the work shop is a big step forward, says Professor Bhupendra Gandhi of IIT Roorkee university.
Despite being the world’s 7th largest hydropower producer, hydro has been shadowed by other renewables in recent years. But seeing potential in hydropower as an important enabler for increased deployment of wind and solar power, this unique power source is back on the agenda.
Ambitious climate goals
India’s ambition is to produce 175GWh of renewable energy annually by 2020, which would be about 40% of its total energy consumption. Hydropower can play an important role as a green battery to increase the reliability of the renewables instead of relying on thermal energy like coal and nuclear to produce electricity after dark, or when there is no wind.
— Hydropower is the only efficient renewable energy source that can be stored (in reservoirs), and therefore can produce clean power even when there is no wind or sun, says Hege Brende, director of HydroCen, the Norwegian Research centre for Hydropower Technology.
While Norway’s 33GW installed hydropower capacity supplies the country with more than 98% of its electrical energy, India is yet to exploit more than one third of its estimated hydropower potential of 150 GW. But there are several challenges on the way to success.
Need for innovation
The discussion ran high during the deliberations where representatives from several government organisations attended.
The National Power Training Institute, National Hydro Power Corporation, Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority as well as representatives from the Department of Financial affairs in Bhutan, and the Nepal Electricity Authority participated actively in the discussion.
HydroCen and IIT Roorkee are also very positive to cooperate with the industry and during the meeting, arranged by the Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi and Innovation Norway, director Brende was happy to talk with several industry representatives from all three countries.
— Norway has been the flagbearer of hydropower. They have based their research on hard data, and used this for the development of hydropower. In India we also need to collect and use such data, and it is time that we use the experiences from Norway here, said Shri Balraj, Chairman and Managing Director at NHPC Ltd.
Big mountains – porous rock
Most of the large hydro power in the region is located in the Himalaya Range and North-East India. These majestic and famous mountains have one huge weakness in terms of hydro power: It’s very porous and has a lot of loose sediments.
Each year, especially during monsoon season, these sediments cause expensive damage to turbines, waterways and power stations. In addition, dealing with these problems also creates environmental issues for fish and river ecology.
— These are issues that fit right into the HydroCen research topics and working together will be very beneficial for both countries, says Brende.
Specifically, the IIT Roorkee, NTNU and Kathmandu University will cooperate to develop sediment resistant Francis turbines and new methods for data collection and modelling.
Sediment monitoring, new solutions for sediment handling and environmental design solutions are other areas where it is possible for HydroCen-researchers to collaborate with colleagues at IIT Roorkee and Kathmandu University, as well as the Indian hydro power industry.
— The triangle of India, Norway and Nepal will be very good for research, says Professor Gandhi.