Government to Fast-Track Commissioning of Pumped Storage Projects in India
The identified potential of PSPs in the country is about 119 GW
In a significant move to accelerate India’s renewable energy capacity, the government has introduced several initiatives to expedite pumped storage projects (PSP) commissioning.
To streamline the concurrence process for Hydro PSPs, Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has recently revamped the approval process for detailed project reports (DPR) of these projects.
Several key measures have been implemented to expedite clearances, including establishing a Single Window Clearance Cell by the CEA.
The Central Water Commission has appointed dedicated nodal officers to fast-track design clearances, while the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has nominated officers to accelerate geological approvals. Furthermore, involving GSI’s subordinate and field offices in states further enhances the efficiency of the clearance process.
Through collaborative efforts between the CEA, the Ministry of Power, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), significant progress has been made in expediting environmental clearances for PSPs.
The MoEF&CC has agreed to appraise off-stream closed-loop PSPs based on specific terms of reference, simplifying the clearance process. Moreover, the MoEF&CC has issued a notification to appraise PSPs situated on existing reservoirs under the B2 category, eliminating the need for environmental impact assessment under certain conditions. These considerations drastically reduce the time required to obtain environmental clearance for PSPs.
The CEA has also published revised guidelines for formulating and concurring DPRs for PSPs. Under the updated guidelines, the concurrence timeline for specific categories of PSPs has been reduced from 90 days to 50 days.
The scope of these guidelines includes PSPs awarded under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003, and PSPs integrated within renewable energy projects. For other PSPs, the timeline for concurrence has been reduced from 125 days to 90 days.
Notably, the 1,350 MW Upper Sileru PSP in Andhra Pradesh, developed by the Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation, received concurrence from CEA in just 70 days, well within the stipulated timeline of 90 days.
The identified potential of PSPs in the country is about 119 GW comprising 109 PSPs. Out of this, eight projects totaling 4.7 GW are under operation, and four projects totaling 2.8 GW are under construction.
CEA has given concurrence for two projects totaling 2.3 GW, and construction of these projects is slated to start shortly.
Further, 33 projects totaling 42 GW are under Survey and Investigation to prepare DPRs. Out of which, the MoEF&CC has already given terms of reference to 22 projects.
Recognizing the pivotal role of PSPs in achieving the government’s ambitious target of installing 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based capacity by 2030 and attaining net-zero carbon emissions by 2070, the country aims to commission 39 Hydro PSPs with a cumulative capacity of 47 GW by 2029-30. These projects play a vital role in integrating intermittent renewable energy with the grid, enabling the supply of dispatchable renewable power, and meeting peak demand requirements.
The Ministry of Power recently released guidelines to regulate and promote the development of pumped storage projects in the country. These guidelines clarified the methods for allotment of project sites through competitive bidding and ruled out any upfront premium for project allocation to make it financially viable.
Last December, the Ministry issued an order waiving the interstate transmission system charges on evacuating electricity from new hydropower projects in the country. This waiver is available to hydropower projects for which construction work is awarded, and power purchase agreements are signed by June 30, 2025.