The Union Power & Coal Minister has indicated that the new government is committed to providing affordable, 24 x 7 power to all households by 2019 as availability of quality, reliable and affordable power is key to achieving rapid socio-economic growth.
While the government has received a major boost by way of recently concluded e-auction of 29 coal mines in two phases, there is also some positive surprises on the thermal capacity addition. For the first time the annual electricity generation in the country crossed a trillion units during 2014-15 (1048.403 billion units(BU))registering a growth of 8.4 per cent over the previous year. Since 1991-92, the compounded annual growth rate(CAGR) of electricity generation has been around 5-6.6 per cent.
Coal-the maximum contributer
The biggest contributor was generation from the coal-based power stations which recorded an annual growth rate of 12.1 per cent. 2014-15 also saw the country achieving the highest ever annual capacity addition at 22,566 MW against the target of 17,830 MW. The capacity addition during the first three years (2012-13 to 2014-15) of 12th Plan is 61,014 MW, which has not only higher than the capacity addition of 54,964 MW of the entire 11th Plan (2007 to 2012) but also constitutes 68.9 per cent of the total 12th Plan target of 88,537 MW.
Of the 22,566 MW added in 2014-15, coal-fired sector contributed the maximum viz. 20,830 MW (92 per cent). The year also marked a turn around in hydro with 736 MW contribution.
Transmission and distribution get a face lift
FY2015 also saw improvements in transmission and distribution sector. The major inter-state transmission system commissioned in 2014-15 includes Raichur-Sholapur 765 kV second circuit which strengthened the synchronous interconnection of southern region with rest of the country thereby facilitating reliable operation of single frequency National Grid.
The huge capacity addition coupled with higher generation and improved transmission capacity have resulted in considerable reduction in energy shortage - to a record low of just 3.6 per cent in 2014-15 from a level of 7-11 per cent during the last two decades.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal had said that Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), which envisages separation of agriculture and non- agriculture feeders to facilitate discoms in judicious supply to agricultural and non - agricultural consumers. It will also help strengthen and augment sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure including metering in rural areas and rural electrification including micro grid and off grid distribution network.
The government has also embarked on Rs.10,000 crore project to serve the North Eastern Region.
Rs 1500 crore R&D spend...
As the thermal sector will continue to be a significant contributor to power capacity in the country, the Centre has planned a slew of initiatives to improve the efficiency of coal-fired power plants as also to reduce the carbon footprint of the power sector.
Presently, out of 87,000 MW thermal capacity under construction, about 48,000 MW is based on super critical technology, which consumes less coal. Also, supercritical technology has been made mandatory for ultra mega power projects being implemented. In 13th Plan, all coal-fired capacity addition shall be through supercritical units. Meanwhile, an advanced ultra super critical technology R&D project has been approved by government at a cost of Rs.1500 crore involving BHEL, NTPC and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) to achieve higher efficiency, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and also limit coal consumption by coal-based power plants. The R&D work for the programme has commenced under the overall supervision of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.
Renovation, modernisation and life extension of old thermal power generating units and retirement of old and inefficient thermal generation units, in phased manner, is being undertaken. A total capacity of 3000 MW has been retired till date.