The 2nd Power Today conference, held in New Delhi on 21 January, was based on the theme 'Fuel to Power the Next Decade' and discussed where the fuel would come from, even as speaker after speaker expressed the belief that this decade would be a defining one for the power sector. R Srinivasan reports.
Independent analyst reports say that if India continues to grow at an average rate of eight per cent for the next 10 years, the country's demand for power is likely to increase to 335 GW by 2017, 100 GW higher than most current estimates. To fulfil its power requirement, India will require a generation capacity of 415-440 GW, after adjusting for plant availability and a modest five per cent spinning reserve. To keep pace with the daunting demand growth, India's power sector requires investments of about Rs 24 lakh crore by 2017, and much of this will need to emerge from government partnerships with the private sector under the PPP model.
Chief Guest Bharatsinh Solanki, Minister of State for Railways (and ex-MoS Power until January), said the 2nd Power Today conference theme reflects our need to seek answers to the big question, 'Where will the fuel come from'? He said, “This decade will prove to be transformational for the nation and therefore for the power sector.”
He added, “With new technologies and emerging green solutions, we are constantly conÂfronted with price issues. Our new Tariff Policy and the operationÂalisation of bidding-based tariffs is a move that will benefit society at large. Since 5 January this year, all state discoms are mandated to migrate to tariff-based compÂetitive bidÂding, open both to public and private sectors. We expect this to lead to innovations in pricing, encourage efficient technology and reduce end-user price.”
In the inaugural session, Harish Ahuja, IAS, Joint Secretary (Power) Government of NCT of Delhi, pointed out that China has an installed capacity of 962,000 MW, about five and a half times more than that of India and plans to add 110,000 MW from nuclear and 500,000 MW from renÂewables by 2020. “What India is tarÂgeting in next 25 years, China is targeting in 10 years,” he said. “The coming decade is goÂing to witness fierce competition as far as energy resources of both these emerging economies is concerned.”
Ahuja called for a new kind of “resource revolution” that would enhÂance efficiencies and optimise consumption. “The silver lining is that India is still transforming from an agrarian to industrial economy but has not fully moved to an industrial society so it can avoid following the model adopted by the global industrial economies. India has the potential to break new ground.”
Power efficiency needs overhaul, and as Subodh Garg, Director General, National Power Training Institute (NPTI), explained, nearly 60,000 MW of installed capacity (about 170,000 MW) in our country is not available for utilisation. Garg pointed out that low plant load factor (PLF) contributes significantly to this proÂblem. The average PLF of thermal projects is 78 per cent, PLF of central sector power projects is about 85 per cent and that of state sector units is about 70 per cent. If it can be brought to 80-85 per cent, it can result in better efficiency of generating units.
This can be achieved by adopting better management practices, ensuring plant maintenance and renovation and moderniÂsation (R&M) of power projects, training of people, open access and HVDC systems, SCADA and smart grids.
JM Phatak, CMD, Rural ElecÂtrification Corporation (REC), clarifying the role of REC said, “REC uses funds to finance not only grid-operated power but also grid-disconnected power, ie, wind and other new sources of power.”
Ritu Mathur, Associate Director (Modelling and Economic Analysis division) TERI, spoke on whether hydel power can bridge the gap?'
RK Bhogra, Consultant (Solar Energy), BHEL, said availability (abundÂantly available), sustainability (inexhausÂtible source of energy) and affordability were critical factors in energy security.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Pratap Padode, MD of ASAPP Media and Editor-in-Chief of Power Today and Infrastructure Today, said, “If we need to power our future, we need to fuel our power which can fuel our dreams. We need to tap every source and use every resource efficiently. This can give us a competitive edge in the global arena where cost-competitiveness is essential for leadership.”
Per government estimates, the power sector needs an investment of Rs 18,080 crore in the 12th Plan Period (2012- 2017) to achieve the ambitious target of 88,000 MW.