For the first time in decades, India today has bounced back from power shortage to power surplus, and the credit goes to PM Modi
It is a proud moment for India. The country for the first time has become power sufficient. The supply meets the demand completely. The country has surplus power which was three per cent during peak hours and one per cent during non peak hours. Western and southern India was always power surplus. It’s only the North India and Eastern India which lagged in power supply. Now, even these areas have become power surplus.
The credit for this situation should go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister of State for Power, Piyush Goyal, yet it’s not a one day job. The deficit was over 15 per cent about 10 years ago. We have increased the capacity slowly and gradually, yet in some of these years the growth was 11 to 12 per cent. This has been achieved by commission of a large number of power generation houses, a major thrust on renewable power and easy availability of coal to power stations.
During this time, the highest ever conventional power capacity of almost 49,000 megawatt was added. Gas-based power plants producing 11,000 megawatt of electricity have been revived and coal shortages to thermal power plants were addressed during the past two years.
Another reason for surplus power was the steep fall in the international price of coal, diesel oil, naphtha, bunker fuel and LNG, which are used in power generation. All this happened during last financial year. Before that many of the non-coal thermal power plants were unable to operate due to high cost of petroleum products. Last year saw an unprecedented fall in global petroleum prices resulting in their abundance and easy availability. The prices fell so much that it often became more profitable to generate power with petroleum products like diesel and naphtha than coal. Besides, auctioning of coal mines by Modi government also added to the burden on coal-fired power plants which produce almost 70 per cent of total power generated in India.
The Government of India has set up a Rs 280 crore fund, sourced from The World Bank, which would be used to protect renewable energy producers from payment delays by power distribution firms, while at the same time protecting the distribution firms from the shrinking market for conventional grid-connected power. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), which provides 30 per cent subsidy to most solar powered items such as solar lamps and solar heating systems, has further extended its subsidy scheme to solar-powered refrigeration units with a view to boost the use of solar-powered cold storages.
The Shipping Ministry too has plans to install solar and wind-based power generation systems at all the major ports across the country by 2017, generating almost 1,000 MW power, an ambitious projection. The Government of India plans to start as many as 10,000 solar, wind and biomass power projects in next five years, with an average capacity of 50 kilowatt per project, thereby adding 500 megawatt to the total installed capacity.
Government of India has asked states to prepare action plans with year-wise targets to introduce renewable energy technologies and install solar rooftop panels so that the states complement government’s works to achieve 175 GW of renewable power by 2022. This comprises generation of 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind energy, 10 GW from biomass, and five GW from small hydro power projects.
But that doesn’t mean that each and every house has been electrified. Almost one fourth of households still lie in darkness. Power is yet to reach many villages. So isn’t this a contradiction? How can a country be power sufficient and powered deficient at the same time? The answer is: no, it’s not a contradiction. Cities and industrial towns suck too much power for their population and hence the demand grows. That’s why there are villages which have yet not known the joy of experiencing brightness of power.
Prime Minister Modi had set a target for electricity to reach every village and providing round the clock power supply by 2018. No doubt it’s a daunting task but not an impossible one.
The need of the hour now is not to set up more traditional power generation plants, but to reform state electricity boards, reduce transmission and distribution loss from the current 22 per cent for each of them and enhance our renewable power generation capacity. Because taking benefits of power to each household is more important than merely being power sufficient. Once the first milestone has been achieved, let’s hope the day is not far when each and every house will be lit by power - affordable power.
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