Author Information

Darwin Werthessen


The need for increased energy production in India is high priority and hydroelectric power has been identified as having the greatest potential for achieving energy independence. The Indian government has continually created more streamlined methods for efficient implementation of hydroelectric facilities with an emphasis on small-scale (<25 MW) and micro (<5 MW) facilities in the more remote regions. Himachal Pradesh has effectively achieved one hundred percent electrification due to these initiatives and realized some of the most successful development in the nation with respect to rural electrification and improved infrastructure such as roads, schools, and hospitals. Hydroelectricity, and especially that produced through run of the river type systems, is generally embraced as a renewable source of energy by many established standards. Small scale run of the river facilities are also heralded for the minimal impact to the environment. However, with increased development and construction in continually industrializing areas, measurable human impacts have increased felt within the environment and ecosystems. Several studies and papers published by the Indian government, as well as the state government of Himachal Pradesh, identify these impacts as low to nonexistent. In contrast, a growing number of studies refute this claim and deserve consideration. There is a diversity of opinion on this subject. Some secondary sources indicate minimal to non-existent environmental impacts stemming from projects less than 25 MW, considered as Small Hydro Power (SHP); while other sources express significant concern. Interviews with government officials and researchers in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand as well as in the capital city of Delhi revealed a wide range of views. This paper presents observations and argues for greater exploration of these issues through future research.

Note on the Author

Darwin Werthessen graduated from the Earth Sciences Department at BSU in December of 2013. This project and experience were funded by the Shea Fellowship for Undergraduate Research Abroad and mentorship was provided by Drs. Madhusudana Rao (Geography) and Martin Grossman (Management).

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