Himachal Pradesh, India case study: Harnessing hydropower

How has hydropower performed in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh ?


Himachal Pradesh Case Study

How has hydropower performed in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh (HP)?

How could climate change impact on existing and planned hydropower generation in the state?

This case study draws on a literature review and in-country stakeholder consultations to understand the issues surrounding hydropower performance and development in HP and includes sections on the case study context, systematic mapping of water-energy-food systems, hydropower performance and its influencing factors, and identifies interventions for increasing the positive impacts of hydropower schemes on water, energy and food security. The case study found that a more integrated approach to planning and operation of the state’s hydropower potential, including an improved climate change strategy and action plan could help HP to stay at the forefront of efforts to harness hydropower sustainably, in developing countries. Increasing river flows owing to glacier melt, which are likely over the next century, present an opportunity to employ HP’s hydropower potential to maximise growth and development in the state. It is important that development of the state’s hydropower potential does not compromise the ability of its natural environment to support sustainable development however.

Much can be learned from HP about progressive policies to support hydropower development in other countries/regions, but the basic conditions of a well-developed, decentralised democracy and land ownership rights seem to be particularly strong foundations. Efforts to restructure the Indian power sector to provide greater incentives for sustainable hydropower development will be extremely challenging but no less important in the long term.

Interventions identified which could help maximise the water, energy and food security benefits from HP’s hydropower potential were:

  • Build on the State Strategy and Action Plan for Climate Change, filling gaps identified to help integrate hydropower planning and development .
  • Build the partnership approach between local people and hydropower projects.
  • Establish coordination bodies to promote integrated water management and soil and water conservation practices.
  • Support definition, monitoring and enforcement of appropriate environmental flows in rivers affected by hydropower projects.
  • Identify opportunities to develop payments for ecosystem services (PfES) approach.
  • Restructuring of the power sector in India as a whole.

This report has been produced for Evidence on Demand by HR Wallingford with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited. It was produced for DFID’s Adaptation Knowledge and Tools programme.


Hurford, A.P.; Wade, S.D.; Winpenny, J. Himachal Pradesh, India case study: Harnessing hydropower. Evidence on Demand, UK (2014) viii + 66 pp. [DOI: 10.12774/eod_cr.august2014.hurfordaetal01]

Himachal Pradesh, India case study: Harnessing hydropower

Published 1 January 2014