As the world’s dependence on finite fossil fuels for energy generation increases exponentially, it becomes more crucial to find renewable and clean energy sources, especially in industrial countries, whose economies are based on manufacturing. Leading industry experts predict that non-synthetic oil resources will be depleted by the end of this century, causing a global energy shortage crisis.

Hydropower is a cleaner and more efficient option than fossil fuels because it doesn’t produce waste or gas emissions, reducing the risk of air pollution, acid rain and global warming. Additional advantages of using hydropower is that it follows the natural water cycle of evaporation, condensation and precipitation — meaning that as long as there is water, there will always be an energy source, which permanently eliminates the cost of purchasing fossil fuels for power plants.

One community combatting the imminent energy crisis through hydropower is the Kullu District, located in Himachal Pradesh of Northern India. Known as the Valley of Gods, the village’s 500,000 residents live amongst the Himalayan Mountains, one of the most complex terrains on earth at altitudes ranging 8,202 feet. And, because of their remote home, they lack access to efficient energy— approximately 1500 Megawatts (MW) — to power its grid.

In an effort to reduce Northern India’s dependence on fossil fuels with clean renewable sources, Allain Duhangan Hydro Power Limited (ADHPL) needed to build a hydropower facility that generates enough power for the region’s grid and causes minimal damage to the district’s pristine natural habitat. Constructing and managing a facility of this magnitude in such a difficult terrain could only be possible through the work of highly-skilled specialists, so ADHPL hired AECOM as both lead designer and construction manager for the Allain Duhangan Hydroelectric Complex.

Coordinating between developers and communities and designing a feasible infrastructure for this site location during both phases of the project, AECOM’s experts worked closely with various teams to resolve issues — such as flood control demands and avoiding adverse effects on the surrounding community during and after construction — safely and efficiently, including:

  • Establishing construction access in the mountainous terrain;
  • Operating under extremely harsh winter conditions;
  • Handling delays and obstacles in land acquisition, like risks of avalanche, forest-cutting restrictions and agreements with the local community;
  • Designing hydraulic structures and electrical systems that reduced costs;
  • And constructing 24.9 miles of access roads using manual techniques that ultimately boosted emerging infrastructure while providing training and employment opportunities for the local community.

When completed in 2009, the Allain Duhangan Hydroelectric Complex ultimately met ADHLP’s goal of reducing the district’s dependence on fossil fuels in the least environmentally invasive way possible to combat the inevitable energy shortage crisis.

AECOM’s design and management of this 225 MW plant successfully harnessed the power of the Allain Nallah and Duhangan Diversions to power more than 35% of Northern India’s power grid.

Complex facts:

  • 225-Megawatt (MW) plant;
  • Combined overflow of 918 cubic feet per second;
  • Gross head of 2,874 feet;
  • 102.5 miles of double-circuit 36.3 MW transmission line; and
  • Up to 8,202 foot altitudes.