Mains Practice Question


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How viable are low-carbon renewables in an increasingly hot and arid world?


A Simple Introduction about low-carbon renewables

Low-carbon renewables are energy sources that generate power with minimal greenhouse gas emissions. They are crucial for combating climate change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Here are some of the most common types of low-carbon renewables are Solar energy, Wind energy Hydropower, Geothermal energy and Biomass energy.


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India's Climate Goals and Hydropower's Role

Hydropower has long been a dependable and clean energy source, playing a crucial role in global renewable energy production.

  • Hydropower's Strengths: With over a century of proven reliability and cost-effectiveness, hydropower remains the world's leading renewable electricity source. Its function is straightforward - the flow of water turns turbines, generating electricity.
  • A Global Decline: Despite its strengths, a recent report by Ember, a UK-based energy think tank, reveals a concerning trend. Hydropower generation witnessed a historic decline in the first half of 2023, marking a 70% increase over the past two decades.
  • China's Hydro Woes: China, the world's top hydropower producer, is at the heart of this decline. Severe droughts in 2022 and 2023 have caused significant drying up of rivers and reservoirs, leading to power shortages and government-imposed rationing.
  • Drought's Devastating Impact: Data suggests that drought, possibly intensified by climate change, is the primary culprit behind the 8.5% global drop in hydropower generation during this period.
  • Vulnerability of Hydro-Reliant Nations: Countries with a high dependence on hydropower are particularly at risk from climate-related changes. For instance, hydropower generates over 80% of the electricity in nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia, all of which are facing severe drought conditions.
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The International Energy Agency (IEA) acknowledges that while wind and solar power are likely to overtake hydropower in the long run, hydropower is expected to remain the leading source of renewable electricity generation until at least the 2030s.  This suggests hydropower will continue to play a significant role shortly of decarbonization efforts.


Other Points to Consider 

Solar and wind energy

Solar installations in India

Hydropower plants in news


Previous Year Questions

1. Examine the potential of wind energy in India and explain the reasons for their limited spatial spread. (2022)

2. India has immense potential of solar energy though there are regional variations in its developments. Elaborate. (2019)


21-May 2024