Powering India Steps For The Coming Days

India needs reliable and high quality power supply at all places for its all round growth. As the major portion of our power comes from thermal power plants, where coal is the mostly used fuel, the union government has already taken steps to ensure a smooth supply of coal to all those plants. The government is also working on expanding our transmission capability and modernising the distribution system… -P K Chatterjee

Indian power sector is literally opening up now. Everything happens when the country’s ruling political party’s manifesto supports that. The union government’s mission to provide 24X7 power to all by 2019, followed by its all round push in this direction has been a big impetus even among the slow going states in India. Of course, some state governments are also showing very prudent steps in this direction.

Power generation through different means in India as on January 2015…

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal & NRE, Piyush Goyal is putting his best effort to accelerate the process of complete electrification in the country. One advantage for him is – he, being the minister of coal too, can strategically remove the causes of inefficiency in supplying coal to thermal power plants, which is very essential considering 60% of our total electric power generation is still based on burning coal. However, all states also will have to take initiatives in this direction – as he recently pointed out in the Conference of Power, Renewable Energy and Mines Ministers of States and UTs (Union Territories) held in Guwahati, “All states should sort out the procurement to generate more power. It will give all the states employment opportunities as well as power.”

So far, within its fourteen-month-rule, Narendra Modi’s government has added around 22,000-megawatt of power generation. It has also managed to extend 22,000 km of transmission lines. The government has a target to be the world’s largest generator of electricity from renewable sources. As referred above, one of the major constraints of (thermal) power generation in India is non-availability of coal smoothly. The government has been tackling the situation very strategically.

Effort to ease availability of coal

India has around 380 million tonnes of un-extracted coal, which if extracted can help in stopping import of coal. Union government is quite active in this area. Just a few days back, the third tranche of coal mine auctions has received bids for several mines that were offered in earlier rounds – but failed to find bidders. Mines like Parbatpur Central, which could not be sold earlier have received bids from leading industrial players like JSW Steel and SAIL. Lloyd Steel and Topworth Urja amongst others have bid for Marki-Mangli-I. Jamkhani, which was withdrawn from the auction last time, has received the highest number of bids at six.

In this sub-continent, governments may plan lot of things but can’t solely give shape to all proposals. So, PPP model (Public-Private-Partnership) is absolutely essential to finish the planned projects in time.

It is really interesting to note that private parties are now coming up to (I must say) rejuvenate the Indian coal sector. Big private sector players like JSW, Hindalco, Jindal Iron and Steel, BALCO, Bhushan Power and Steel, ACC and Vedanta apart from SAIL and RINL are in contest in the third tranche of coal mine auction.

The present government is all set to use technology to monitor the mining progress of all allotted blocks. For that purpose, the ministry of coal has created an Electronic Coal Projects Monitoring Portal (e-CPMP), which (http://esuvidha.gov.in/coal/index.php) will help in monitoring the operation of all the allotted coal mines.
As per Goyal, the central government has taken up the matter of expediting various clearances with the concerned coal bearing state governments, and has been regularly pursing with the authorities concerned with the objective of brining the successfully auctioned / allotted coal mines into production as soon as possible.

Overall generation status and target

Thermal Energy: As on 30.06.2015, our total (including central, state and private sector) thermal power capacity is 2,74,818 MW. In 12th Five-Year- Plan, our (thermal) target is 72,340.00 MW, up to March 31, 2015, we have achieved around 57,719 MW.

 Nuclear Energy: As on 22nd July-2015, our installed nuclear power capacity is 5780 MW, which is expected to increase to 10,080 MW on progressive completion of projects under commissioning / construction by 2019. The government has accorded financial sanction and administrative approval for Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP) Units – 1&2 (2X700 MW) and Kudankulam Units- 3&4 (2X1000 MW) with a total capacity of 3400 MW. These projects are being prepared for launch this year. The government is targeting at an installed capacity of 14,600 MW by 2020.

Contextually, one Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) of 500 MW capacity (Bhavini) at Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu) is at advanced stage of commissioning. Construction of two more Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR 1&2) of 600 MW capacity each at Kalpakkam has been planned. More nuclear power projects basedboth on indigenous technologies and with international cooperation are on anvil.

Nuclear Island – Reactor Building of Bhavini during construction… Source: IAEA

Renewable Energy: Renewable energy generation points are widespread over the country; also its sources are diversified. In a nutshell, the MNRE (Ministry of New & Renewable Energy) is targeting to achieve around 1,75,000 MW by 2022 (Solar: 1,00,000 MW; Wind: 60,000 MW; SHP (Small Hydro Power): 5,000 MW; Biomass: 10,000 MW). As on date (30.06.2015) our cumulative achievement is around 37,000 MW.

According to the power ministry, a Rs 38,000 crore green energy corridor is being set up to transmit renewable energy. Twenty five solar parks (each of 100 MW) will be constructed to promote clean energy.

Transmission and distribution

Mere power generation is not enough, we need to develop a sound transmission and distribution network to meet the 2019 target. The following table shows the progress up to June 2015. Addition of more circuit-kms is in process. By the end of 12th plan, estimated addition of transmission lines in the country is expected to be: 765 kV (25000-30000 Ckm), HVDC Bi-pole (4000 – 6000 Ckm), 400 kV (50,000 Ckm), 220kV (40,000 Ckm). The government is also trying to revamp our distribution sector. This area is full of challenges, and mostly a pocket for losses mainly because of non-metering/ sub-standard metering and, commercial errors and power tapping.

Government has taken several steps to improve the situation. As the country is on the verge of embracing renewable energy (especially solar) in a big way, every small (home!) power producers will soon get the advantage of selling their excess power to grid. For that Advanced Metering Infrastructure is needed. We have started walking in that direction – but of course slowly. Puducherry smart grid’s experience will definitely help us in the next projects. Contextually, the recent launch of Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana is a good beginning.

Recent initiatives from some states

In order to address their annual power deficit of more than 5.5 billion units, Jammu & Kashmir has made a separate budget for their power sector. The state will utilise its natural resources to generate 9,344 MW of hydro power. As per the state’s estimation, its transmission sector will need around ` 6,554 crore to ensure uninterrupted power for all. They are working on it.

Government of Uttar Pradesh is also trying to increase its supply by around 11,000 MW to ensure 24-hrs and 22-hrs power supply respectively in urban and rural areas.

Odisha government has planned to add 860 km high-tension and 1, 260 km low-tension transmission lines in this financial year. The state has allocated ` 310 crore for the construction of 550 sub-stations, and is buying 4,300 transformers.


The present central government’s bold target and consistent follow up have created a wave of rethinking and reconstructing the power sector in the country. Some state governments (although all of them are supposed to be) are also taking up active plans and targets. Right at this moment, there is no fast alternative but to go for further addition of thermal capacity, however, our prime minister is zealous to reduce India’s carbon footprint. So, nuclear and renewable developments are gaining more focus. A new trend in the sector may emerge that is some power generators may enter into transmission, however it’s too early to comment on that.

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