Electricity sector in India
The electricity sector in India had an installed capacity of 229.251 GW as of October 2013, the world's fifth largest. Captive power plants generate an additional 34.444 GW. Non Renewable Power Plants constitute 87.55% of the installed capacity, and Renewable Power Plants constitute the remaining 12.45% of total installed Capacity. India generated 855 BU (855 000 MU i.e. 855 TWh) electricity during 2011–12 fiscal.
In terms of fuel, coal-fired plants account for 57% of India's installed electricity capacity, compared to South Africa's 92%; China's 77%; and Australia's 76%. After coal, renewal hydropower accounts for 19%, renewable energy for 12% and natural gas for about 9%.
In December 2011, over 300 million Indian citizens had no access to electricity. Over one third of India's rural population lacked electricity, as did 6% of the urban population. Of those who did have access to electricity in India, the supply was intermittent and unreliable. In 2010, blackouts and power shedding interrupted irrigation and manufacturing across the country. States such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and others provides continuous power supply.
The per capita average annual domestic electricity consumption in India in 2009 was 96 kWh in rural areas and 288 kWh in urban areas for those with access to electricity, in contrast to the worldwide per capita annual average of 2600 kWh and 6200 kWh in the European Union. India's total domestic, agricultural and industrial per capita energy consumption estimate vary depending on the source. Two sources place it between 400 to 700 kWh in 2008–2009. As of January 2012, one report found the per capita total consumption in India to be 778 kWh.
India currently suffers from a major shortage of electricity generation capacity, even though it is the world's fourth largest energy consumer after United States, China and Russia.
The International Energy Agency estimates India will add between 600 GW to 1200 GW of additional new power generation capacity before 2050. This added new capacity is equivalent to the 740 GW of total power generation capacity of European Union (EU-27) in 2005. The technologies and fuel sources India adopts, as it adds this electricity generation capacity, may make significant impact to global resource usage and environmental issues.
India's electricity sector is amongst the world's most active players in renewable energy utilisation, especially wind energy. As of December 2011, India had an installed capacity of about 28 GW of renewal technologies-based electricity, exceeding the total installed electricity capacity in Austria by all technologies.
According to some ambitious estimates, India has 10,600 MW of potential in the geothermal provinces but it still needs to be exploited. 
India's network losses exceeded 32% in 2010 including non-technical losses, compared to world average of less than 15%. Both technical and non-technical factors contribute to these losses, but quantifying their proportions is difficult. But the Government pegs the national T&D losses at around 24% for the year 2011 & has set a target of reducing it to 17.1% by 2017 & to 14.1% by 2022. Some experts estimate that technical losses are about 15% to 20%, A high proportion of non‐technical losses are caused by illegal tapping of lines, but faulty electric metres that underestimate actual consumption also contribute to reduced payment collection. A case study in Kerala estimated that replacing faulty metres could reduce distribution losses from 34% to 29%.
Key implementation challenges for India's electricity sector include new project management and execution, ensuring availability of fuel quantities and qualities, lack of initiative to develop large coal and natural gas resources present in India, land acquisition, environmental clearances at state and central government level, and training of skilled manpower to prevent talent shortages for operating latest technology plants.
- 1 History
- 2 Demand
- 3 Electricity Consumption
- 4 Generation
- 5 Other renewable energy
- 6 Problems with India's power sector
- 7 Resource potential in electricity sector
- 8 Electricity trading with neighbour countries
- 9 Rural electrification
- 10 Human resource development
- 11 Trading
- 12 Regulation and administration
- 13 See also
- 14 External links
- 15 References
The first demonstration of electric light in Calcutta was conducted on 24 July 1879 by P W Fleury & Co. On 7 January 1897, Kilburn & Co secured the Calcutta electric lighting licence as agents of the Indian Electric Co, which was registered in London on 15 January 1897. A month later, the company was renamed the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation. The control of the company was transferred from London to Calcutta only in 1970. Enthused by the success of electricity in Calcutta, power was thereafter introduced in Bombay. Mumbai saw electric lighting demonstration for the first time in 1882 at Crawford Market, and Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company (B.E.S.T.) set up a generating station in 1905 to provide electricity for the tramway. The first hydroelectric installation in India was installed near a tea estate at Sidrapong for the Darjeeling Municipality in 1897. The first electric train ran between Bombay's Victoria Terminus and Kurla along the Harbour Line, in 1925. In 1931, electrification of the metre gauge track between Madras Beach and Tambaram was started.
- Demand drivers
"Expanding access to energy means including 2.4 billion people: 1.4 billion that still has no access to electricity (87% of whom live in the rural areas) and 1 billion that only has access to unreliable electricity networks. We need smart and practical approaches because energy, as a driver of development, plays a central role in both fighting poverty and addressing climate change. The implications are enormous: families forego entrepreneurial endeavors, children cannot study after dark, health clinics do not function properly, and women are burdened with time consuming chores such as pounding grain or hauling water, leaving them with less time to engage in income generating activities. Further, it is estimated that kitchen smoke leads to around 1.5 million premature deaths every year, more than the number of deaths from malaria each year. After gaining access to energy, households generate more income, are more productive and are less hungry, further multiplying the Millennium Development Goal's progress."
— Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator and Under Secretary General, Bloomberg New Energy Summit, April 7, 2011
Of the 1.4 billion people of the world who have no access to electricity in the world, India accounts for over 300 million.
Some 800 million Indians use traditional fuels – fuelwood, agricultural waste and biomass cakes – for cooking and general heating needs. These traditional fuels are burnt in cook stoves, known as chulah or chulha in some parts of India. Traditional fuel is inefficient source of energy, its burning releases high levels of smoke, PM10 particulate matter, NOX, SOX, PAHs, polyaromatics, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants. Some reports, including one by the World Health Organisation, claim 300,000 to 400,000 people in India die of indoor air pollution and carbon monoxide poisoning every year because of biomass burning and use of chullahs. Traditional fuel burning in conventional cook stoves releases unnecessarily large amounts of pollutants, between 5 to 15 times higher than industrial combustion of coal, thereby affecting outdoor air quality, haze and smog, chronic health problems, damage to forests, ecosystems and global climate. Burning of biomass and firewood will not stop, these reports claim, unless electricity or clean burning fuel and combustion technologies become reliably available and widely adopted in rural and urban India. The growth of electricity sector in India may help find a sustainable alternative to traditional fuel burning.
In addition to air pollution problems, a 2007 study finds that discharge of untreated sewage is single most important cause for pollution of surface and ground water in India. There is a large gap between generation and treatment of domestic wastewater in India. The problem is not only that India lacks sufficient treatment capacity but also that the sewage treatment plants that exist do not operate and are not maintained. Majority of the government-owned sewage treatment plants remain closed most of the time in part because of the lack of reliable electricity supply to operate the plants. The wastewater generated in these areas normally percolates in the soil or evaporates. The uncollected wastes accumulate in the urban areas cause unhygienic conditions, release heavy metals and pollutants that leaches to surface and groundwater. Almost all rivers, lakes and water bodies are severely polluted in India. Water pollution also adversely impacts river, wetland and ocean life. Reliable generation and supply of electricity is essential for addressing India's water pollution and associated environmental issues.
Other drivers for India's electricity sector are its rapidly growing economy, rising exports, improving infrastructure and increasing household incomes.
- Demand trends
As in previous years, during the year 2010–11, demand for electricity in India far outstripped availability, both in terms of base load energy and peak availability. Base load requirement was 861,591 (MU) against availability of 788,355 MU, a 8.5% deficit. During peak loads, the demand was for 122 GW against availability of 110 GW, a 9.8% shortfall.
In a May 2011 report, India's Central Electricity Authority anticipated, for 2011–12-year, a base load energy deficit and peaking shortage to be 10.3% and 12.9% respectively. The peaking shortage would prevail in all regions of the country, varying from 5.9% in the North-Eastern region to 14.5% in the Southern Region. India also expects all regions to face energy shortage varying from 0.3% in the North-Eastern region to 11.0% in the Western region. India's Central Electricity Authority expects a surplus output in some of the states of Northern India, those with predominantly hydropower capacity, but only during the monsoon months. In these states, shortage conditions would prevail during winter season. According to this report, the five states with largest power demand and availability, as of May 2011, were Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
In late 2011 newspaper articles, Gujarat was declared a power surplus state, with about 2–3 GW more power available than its internal demand. The state was expecting more capacity to become available. It was expecting to find customers, sell excess capacity to meet power demand in other states of India, thereby generate revenues for the state.
Despite an ambitious rural electrification programme, some 400 million Indians lose electricity access during blackouts. While 80% of Indian villages have at least an electricity line, just 52.5% of rural households have access to electricity. In urban areas, the access to electricity is 93.1% in 2008. The overall electrification rate in India is 64.5% while 35.5% of the population still live without access to electricity.
According to a sample of 97,882 households in 2002, electricity was the main source of lighting for 53% of rural households compared to 36% in 1993.
The 17th electric power survey of India report claims:
- Over 2010–11, India's industrial demand accounted for 35% of electrical power requirement, domestic household use accounted for 28%, agriculture 21%, commercial 9%, public lighting and other miscellaneous applications accounted for the rest.
- The electrical energy demand for 2016–17 is expected to be at least 1392 Tera Watt Hours, with a peak electric demand of 218 GW.
- The electrical energy demand for 2021–22 is expected to be at least 1915 Tera Watt Hours, with a peak electric demand of 298 GW.
If current average transmission and distribution average losses remain same (32%), India needs to add about 135 GW of power generation capacity, before 2017, to satisfy the projected demand after losses.
McKinsey claims that India's demand for electricity may cross 300 GW, earlier than most estimates. To explain their estimates, they point to four reasons:
- India's manufacturing sector is likely to grow faster than in the past
- Domestic demand will increase more rapidly as the quality of life for more Indians improve
- About 125,000 villages are likely to get connected to India's electricity grid
- Currently blackouts and load shedding artificially suppresses demand; this demand will be sought as revenue potential by power distribution companies
A demand of 300GW will require about 400 GW of installed capacity, McKinsey notes. The extra capacity is necessary to account for plant availability, infrastructure maintenance, spinning reserve and losses.
In 2010, electricity losses in India during transmission and distribution were about 24%, while losses because of consumer theft or billing deficiencies added another 10–15%.
According to two studies published in 2004, theft of electricity in India, amounted to a nationwide loss of $4.5 billion. This led several states of India to enact and implement regulatory, and institutional framework; develop a new industry and market structure; and privatise distribution. The state of Andhra Pradesh, for example, enacted an electricity reform law; unbundled the utility into one generation, one transmission, and four distribution and supply companies; and established an independent regulatory commission responsible for licensing, setting tariffs, and promoting efficiency and competition. Some state governments amended the Indian Electricity Act of 1910 to make electricity theft a cognisable offence and impose stringent penalties. A separate law, unprecedented in India, provided for mandatory imprisonment and penalties for offenders, allowed constitution of special courts and tribunals for speedy trial, and recognised collusion by utility staff as a criminal offence. The state government made advance preparations and constituted special courts and appellate tribunals as soon as the new law came into force. High quality metring and enhanced audit information flow was implemented. Such campaigns have made a big difference in the Indian utilities’ bottom line. Monthly billing has increased substantially, and the collection rate reached more than 98%. Transmission and distribution losses were reduced by 8%.
The Per capita Consumption(kWh) in 2009–10 was as follows:
|State||Per capita Consumption(kWh)|
|Jammu & Kashmir||968.47|
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands||506.13|
This information was given by the Minister of State for Power Shri K.C.Venugopal in a written reply to a question in LokSabha on 18 May 2012.
Power development in India was first started in 1897 in Darjeeling, followed by commissioning of a hydropower station at Sivasamudram in Karnataka during 1902.Those power plants which generates electricity more than 1000 MW are referred as Super Thermal Power Stations.
India's electricity generation capacity additions from 1950 to 1985 were very low when compared to developed nations. Since 1990, India has been one of the fastest growing markets for new electricity generation capacity.
The country's annual electricity generation capacity has increased in last 20 years by about 130 GW, from about 66 GW in 1991 to over 100 GW in 2001, to over 199 GW in 2012. India's Power Finance Corporation Limited projects that current and approved electricity capacity addition projects in India are expected to add about 100 GW of installed capacity between 2012 and 2017. This growth makes India one the fastest growing markets for electricity infrastructure equipment. India's installed capacity growth rates are still less than those achieved by China, and short of capacity needed to ensure universal availability of electricity throughout India by 2017.
State-owned and privately owned companies are significant players in India's electricity sector, with the private sector growing at a faster rate. India's central government and state governments jointly regulate electricity sector in India.
Major economic and social drivers for India's push for electricity generation include India's goal to provide universal access, the need to replace current highly polluting energy sources in use in India with cleaner energy sources, a rapidly growing economy, increasing household incomes, limited domestic reserves of fossil fuels and the adverse impact on the environment of rapid development in urban and regional areas.
The table below presents the electricity generation capacity, as well as availability to India's end user and their demand. The difference between installed capacity and availability is the transmission, distribution and consumer losses. The gap between availability and demand is the shortage India is suffering. This shortage in supply ignores the effects of waiting list of users in rural, urban and industrial customers; it also ignores the demand gap from India's unreliable electricity supply.
|Total installed capacity (GW)||209.27||October 2012|||
|Available base load supply (MU)||893371||October 2012|||
|Available peak load supply (GW)||125.23||October 2012|||
|Demand base load (MU)||985317||October 2012|||
|Demand peak load (GW)||140.09||October 2012|||
According to India's Ministry of Power, about 14.1 GW of new thermal power plants under construction are expected to be put in use by December 2012, so are 2.1 GW capacity hydropower plants and a 1 GW capacity nuclear power plant. India's installed generation capacity should top 200 GW in 2012.
In 2010, the five largest power companies in India, by installed capacity, in decreasing order, were the state-owned NTPC, state-owned NHPC, followed by three privately owned companies: Tata Power, Reliance Power and Adani Power.
In India's effort to add electricity generation capacity over 2009–2011, both central government and state government owned power companies have repeatedly failed to add the capacity targets because of issues with procurement of equipment and poor project management. Private companies have delivered better results.
Thermal power plants convert energy rich fuel into electricity and heat. Possible fuels include coal, natural gas, petroleum products, agricultural waste and domestic trash / waste. Other sources of fuel include landfill gas and biogases. In some plants, renewal fuels such as biogas are co-fired with coal.
Coal and lignite accounted for about 57% of India's installed capacity. However, since wind energy depends on wind speed, and hydropower energy on water levels, thermal power plants account for over 65% of India's generated electricity. India's electricity sector consumes about 80% of the coal produced in the country.
India expects that its projected rapid growth in electricity generation over the next couple of decades is expected to be largely met by thermal power plants.
- Fuel constraints
A large part of Indian coal reserve is similar to Gondwana coal. It is of low calorific value and high ash content. The iron content is low in India's coal, and toxic trace element concentrations are negligible. The natural fuel value of Indian coal is poor. On average, the Indian power plants using India's coal supply consume about 0.7 kg of coal to generate a kWh, whereas United States thermal power plants consume about 0.45 kg of coal per kWh. This is because of the difference in the quality of the coal, as measured by the Gross Calorific Value (GCV). On average, Indian coal has a GCV of about 4500 Kcal/kg, whereas the quality elsewhere in the world is much better; for example, in Australia, the GCV is 6500 Kcal/kg approximately.
The high ash content in India's coal affects the thermal power plant's potential emissions. Therefore, India's Ministry of Environment & Forests has mandated the use of beneficiated coals whose ash content has been reduced to 34% (or lower) in power plants in urban, ecologically sensitive and other critically polluted areas, and ecologically sensitive areas. Coal benefaction industry has rapidly grown in India, with current capacity topping 90 MT.
Thermal power plants can deploy a wide range of technologies. Some of the major technologies include:
- Steam cycle facilities (most commonly used for large utilities);
- Gas turbines (commonly used for moderate sized peaking facilities);
- Cogeneration and combined cycle facility (the combination of gas turbines or internal combustion engines with heat recovery systems); and
- Internal combustion engines (commonly used for small remote sites or stand-by power generation).
India has an extensive review process, one that includes environment impact assessment, prior to a thermal power plant being approved for construction and commissioning. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has published a technical guidance manual to help project proposers and to prevent environmental pollution in India from thermal power plants.
- Installed thermal power capacity
The installed capacity of Thermal Power in India, as of 31 October 2012, was 140206.18 MW which is 66.99 of total installed capacity.
- Current installed base of Coal Based Thermal Power is 120,103.38 MW which comes to 57.38% of total installed base.
- Current installed base of Gas Based Thermal Power is 18,903.05 MW which is 9.03% of total installed capacity.
- Current installed base of Oil Based Thermal Power is 1,199.75 MW which is 0.57% of total installed capacity.
The state of Maharashtra is the largest producer of thermal power in the country.
In this system of power generation, the potential of the water falling under gravitational force is utilised to rotate a turbine which again is coupled to a Generator, leading to generation of electricity. India is one of the pioneering countries in establishing hydro-electric power plants. The power plants at Darjeeling and Shimsha (Shivanasamudra) were established in 1898 and 1902 respectively and are among the first in Asia.
India is endowed with economically exploitable and viable hydro potential assessed to be about 84,000 MW at 60% load factor. In addition, 6,780 MW in terms of installed capacity from Small, Mini, and Micro Hydel schemes have been assessed. Also, 56 sites for pumped storage schemes with an aggregate installed capacity of 94,000 MW have been identified. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy. India is blessed with immense amount of hydro-electric potential and ranks 5th in terms of exploitable hydro-potential on global scenario.
The present installed capacity as of 31 October 2012 is approximately 39,291.40 MW which is 18.77% of total electricity generation in India. The public sector has a predominant share of 97% in this sector. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), Northeast Electric Power Company (NEEPCO), Satluj jal vidyut nigam (SJVNL), Tehri Hydro Development Corporation, NTPC-Hydro are a few public sector companies engaged in development of hydroelectric power in India.
Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), illustrative state-owned enterprise in north India, has an installed capacity of 2.9 GW and generates 12000-14000 MU per year. The cost of generation of energy after four decades of operation is about 20 paise/kWh (=0.2 rupee/kWh = approx. 0.3 US cents/kWh). BBMB is a major source of peaking power and black start to the northern grid in India. Large reservoirs provide operational flexibility. BBMB reservoirs annually supply water for irrigation to 12.5 million(12.5 million) acres of agricultural land of partner states, enabling northern India in its green revolution.
As of 2011, India had 4.8 GW of installed electricity generation capacity using nuclear fuels. India's Nuclear plants generated 32455 million units or 3.75% of total electricity produced in India.
India's nuclear power plant development began in 1964. India signed an agreement with General Electric of the United States for the construction and commissioning of two boiling water reactors at Tarapur. In 1967, this effort was placed under India's Department of Atomic Energy. In 1971, India set up its first pressurised heavy water reactors with Canadian collaboration in Rajasthan. In 1987, India created Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited to commercialise nuclear power.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is a public sector enterprise, wholly owned by the Government of India, under the administrative control of its Department of Atomic Energy. Its objective is to implement and operate nuclear power stations for India's electricity sector. The state-owned company has ambitious plans to establish 63 GW generation capacity by 2032, as a safe, environmentally benign and economically viable source of electrical energy to meet the increasing electricity needs of India.
India's nuclear power generation effort satisfies many safeguards and oversights, such as getting ISO-14001 accreditation for environment management system and peer review by World Association of Nuclear Operators including a pre-start up peer review. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited admits, in its annual report for 2011, that its biggest challenge is to address the public and policy maker perceptions about the safety of nuclear power, particularly after the Fukushima incident in Japan.
In 2011, India had 18 pressurised heavy water reactors in operation, with another four projects of 2.8 GW capacity launched. The country plans to implement fast breeder reactors, using plutonium based fuel. Plutonium is obtained by reprocessing spent fuel of first stage reactors. India successfully launched its first prototype fast breeder reactor of 500 MW capacity in Tamil Nadu, and now operates two such reactors.
India has nuclear power plants operating in the following states: Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These reactors have an installed electricity generation capacity between 100 to 540 MW each. New reactors with installed capacity of 1000 MW per reactor are expected to be in use by 2012.
In 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported the discovery of uranium in a new mine in India, the country's largest ever. The estimated reserves of 64,000 tonnes, could be as large as 150,000 tonnes (making the mine one of the world's largest). The new mine is expected to provide India with a fuel that it currently imports. Nuclear fuel supply constraints had limited India's ability to grow its nuclear power generation capacity. The newly discovered ore, unlike those in Australia, is of slightly lower grade. This mine is expected to be in operation in 2012.
India's share of nuclear power plant generation capacity is just 1.2% of worldwide nuclear power production capacity, making it the 15th largest nuclear power producer. Nuclear power provided 3% of the country's total electricity generation in 2011. India aims to supply 9% of it electricity needs with nuclear power by 2032. India's largest nuclear power plant project under implementation is at Jaitapur, Maharashtra in partnership with Areva, France.
Other renewable energy
Renewable energy in India is a sector that is still in its infancy.
As of December 2011, India had an installed capacity of about 22.4 GW of renewal technologies-based electricity, about 12% of its total. For context, the total installed capacity for electricity in Switzerland was about 18 GW in 2009. The table below provides the capacity breakdown by various technologies.
|Type||Technology||Installed capacity (in MW)|
|Grid connected power|
|Off-grid, captive power|
|Biomass non-bagasse cogen||426.04|
|Biomass Gasifiers – Industrial||138.90|
|Waste to Energy-Urban||113.60|
|SPV Systems (>1 kW)||106.33|
|Biomass Gasifiers – Rural||16.696|
As of August 2011, India had deployed renewal energy to provide electricity in 8846 remote villages, installed 4.4 million family biogas plants, 1800 microhydel units and 4.7 million square metres of solar water heating capacity. India anticipates to add another 3.6 GW of renewal energy installed capacity by December 2012.
India plans to add about 30 GW of installed electricity generation capacity based on renewal energy technologies, by 2017.
Renewable energy projects in India are regulated and championed by the central government's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
India is endowed with rich solar energy resources. India receives the highest global solar radiation on a Solar Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. Under this central government initiative, India plans to generate 1 GW of power by 2013 and up to 20 GW grid-based solar power, 2 GW of off-grid solar power and cover 20 million square metres with solar energy collectors by 2020. India plans utility scale solar power generation plants through solar parks with dedicated infrastructure by state governments, among others, the governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The Government of Gujarat taking advantage of the national initiative and high solar irradiation in the state, launched the Solar Power Policy in 2009 and proposes to establish a number of large-scale solar parks starting with the Charanka solar park in Patan district in the sparsely populated northern part of the state. The development of solar parks will streamline the project development timeline by letting government agencies undertake land acquisition and necessary permits, and provide dedicated common infrastructure for setting up solar power generation plants largely in the private sector. This approach will facilitate the accelerated installation of private sector solar power generation capacity reducing costs by addressing issues faced by stand alone projects. Common infrastructure for the solar park include site preparation and levelling, power evacuation, availability of water, access roads, security and services. In parallel with the central government's initiative, the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission has announced feed-in-tariff to mainstream solar power generation which will be applied for solar power generation plants in the solar park. Gujarat Power Corporation Limited is the responsible agency for developing the solar park of 500 megawatts and will lease the lands to the project developers to generate solar power. Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited will develop the transmission evacuation from the identified interconnection points with the solar developer. This project is being supported, in part, by the Asian Development Bank.
The Indian Solar Loan Programme, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme has won the prestigious Energy Globe World award for Sustainability for helping to establish a consumer financing programme for solar home power systems. Over the span of three years more than 16,000 solar home systems have been financed through 2,000 bank branches, particularly in rural areas of South India where the electricity grid does not yet extend. Launched in 2003, the Indian Solar Loan Programme was a four-year partnership between UNEP, the UNEP Risoe Centre, and two of India's largest banks, the Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank.
Land acquisition is a challenge to solar farm projects in India. Some state governments are exploring means to address land availability through innovation; for example, by exploring means to deploy solar capacity above their extensive irrigation canal projects, thereby harvesting solar energy while reducing the loss of irrigation water by solar evaporation. The state of Gujarat was first to implement the "Canal Solar Power Project", to use 19,000 Kilometre long network of Narmada canals across the state for setting up solar panels to generate electricity. It was the first ever such project in India.
The development of wind power in India began in the 1990s by Tamil Nadu Electric Board near Tuticorin, and has significantly increased in the last few years. Suzlon is the leading Indian company in wind power, with an installed generation capacity of 6.2 GW in India. Vestas is another major company active in India's wind energy initiative.
As December 2011, the installed capacity of wind power in India was 15.9 GW, spread across many states of India. The largest wind power generating state was Tamil Nadu accounting for 30% of installed capacity, followed in decreasing order by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Rajasthan. It is estimated that 6 GW of additional wind power capacity will be installed in India by 2012. In Tamil Nadu, wind power is mostly harvested in the southern districts such as Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin.
In this system biomass, bagasse, forestry and agro residue & agricultural wastes are used as fuel to produce electricity.
- Biomass gasifier
India has been promoting biomass gasifier technologies in its rural areas, to utilise surplus biomass resources such as rice husk, crop stalks, small wood chips, other agro-residues. The goal was to produce electricity for villages with power plants of up to 2 MW capacities. During 2011, India installed 25 rice husk based gasifier systems for distributed power generation in 70 remote villages of Bihar. The Largest Biomass based power plant in India is at SIrohi, Rajasthan having the capacity of 20 MW.i.e. Sambhav Energy Limited. In addition, gasifier systems are being installed at 60 rice mills in India. During the year, biomass gasifier projects of 1.20 MW in Gujarat and 0.5 MW in Tamil Nadu were successfully installed.
This pilot programme aims to install small scale biogas plants for meeting the cooking energy needs in rural areas of India. During 2011, some 45000 small scale biogas plants were installed. Cumulatively, India has installed 4.44 million small scale biogas plants.
In 2011, India started a new initiative with the aim to demonstrate medium size mixed feed biogas-fertiliser pilot plants. This technology aims for generation, purification/enrichment, bottling and piped distribution of biogas. India approved 21 of these projects with aggregate capacity of 37016 cubic metre per day, of which 2 projects have been successfully commissioned by December 2011.
India has additionally commissioned 158 projects under its Biogas based Distributed/Grid Power Generation programme, with a total installed capacity of about 2 MW.
India is rich in biomass and has a potential of 16,881MW (agro-residues and plantations), 5000MW (bagasse cogeneration) and 2700MW (energy recovery from waste). Biomass power generation in India is an industry that attracts investments of over INR 6 billion every year, generating more than 5000 million units of electricity and yearly employment of more than 10 million man-days in the rural areas.
As of 2010, India burnt over 200 million tonnes of coal replacement worth of traditional biomass fuel every year to meet its energy need for cooking and other domestic use. This traditional biomass fuel – fuelwood, crop waste and animal dung – is a potential raw material for the application of biomass technologies for the recovery of cleaner fuel, fertilisers and electricity with significantly lower pollution.
Biomass available in India can and has been playing an important role as fuel for sugar mills, textiles, paper mills, and small and medium enterprises (SME). In particular there is a significant potential in breweries, textile mills, fertiliser plants, the paper and pulp industry, solvent extraction units, rice mills, petrochemical plants and other industries to harness biomass power.
India's geothermal energy installed capacity is experimental. Commercial use is insignificant.
India has potential resources to harvest geothermal energy. The resource map for India has been grouped into six geothermal provinces:
- Himalayan Province – Tertiary Orogenic belt with Tertiary magmatism
- Areas of Faulted blocks – Aravalli belt, Naga-Lushi, West coast regions and Son-Narmada lineament.
- Volcanic arc – Andaman and Nicobar arc.
- Deep sedimentary basin of Tertiary age such as Cambay basin in Gujarat.
- Radioactive Province – Surajkund, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand.
- Cratonic province – Peninsular India
India has about 340 hot springs spread over the country. Of this, 62 are distributed along the northwest Himalaya, in the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They are found concentrated along a 30-50-km wide thermal band mostly along the river valleys. Naga-Lusai and West Coast Provinces manifest a series of thermal springs. Andaman and Nicobar arc is the only place in India where volcanic activity, a continuation of the Indonesian geothermal fields, and can be good potential sites for geothermal energy. Cambay graben geothermal belt is 200 km long and 50 km wide with Tertiary sediments. Thermal springs have been reported from the belt although they are not of very high temperature and discharge. During oil and gas drilling in this area, in recent times, high subsurface temperature and thermal fluid have been reported in deep drill wells in depth ranges of 1.7 to 1.9 km. Steam blowout have also been reported in the drill holes in depth range of 1.5 to 3.4 km. The thermal springs in India's peninsular region are more related to the faults, which allow down circulation of meteoric water to considerable depths. The circulating water acquires heat from the normal thermal gradient in the area, and depending upon local condition, emerges out at suitable localities. The area includes Aravalli range, Son-Narmada-Tapti lineament, Godavari and Mahanadi valleys and South Cratonic Belts.
In a December 2011 report, India identified six most promising geothermal sites for the development of geothermal energy. These are, in decreasing order of potential:
- Tattapani in Chhattisgarh
- Puga in Jammu & Kashmir
- Cambay Graben in Gujarat
- Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh
- Surajkund in Jharkhand
- Chhumathang in Jammu & Kashmir
Tidal wave energy
Tidal energy technologies harvest energy from the seas. The potential of tidal wave energy becomes higher in certain regions by local effects such as shelving, funnelling, reflection and resonance.
India is surrounded by sea on three sides, its potential to harness tidal energy is significant.
Energy can be extracted from tides in several ways. In one method, a reservoir is created behind a barrage and then tidal waters pass through turbines in the barrage to generate electricity. This method requires mean tidal differences greater than 4 metres and also favourable topographical conditions to keep installation costs low. One report claims the most attractive locations in India, for the barrage technology, are the Gulf of Khambhat and the Gulf of Kutch on India's west coast where the maximum tidal range is 11 m and 8 m with average tidal range of 6.77 m and 5.23 m respectively. The Ganges Delta in the Sunderbans, West Bengal is another possibility, although with significantly less recoverable energy; the maximum tidal range in Sunderbans is approximately 5 m with an average tidal range of 2.97 m. The report claims, barrage technology could harvest about 8 GW from tidal energy in India, mostly in Gujarat. The barrage approach has several disadvantages, one being the effect of any badly engineered barrage on the migratory fishes, marine ecosystem and aquatic life. Integrated barrage technology plants can be expensive to build.
In December 2011, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India and the Renewable Energy Development Agency of Govt. of West Bengal jointly approved and agreed to implement India's first 3.75 MW Durgaduani mini tidal power project. Indian government believes that tidal energy may be an attractive solution to meet the local energy demands of this remote delta region.
Another tidal wave technology harvests energy from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the sea surface. A report from the Ocean Engineering Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras estimates the annual wave energy potential along the Indian coast is between 5 MW to 15 MW per metre, suggesting a theoretical maximum potential for electricity harvesting from India's 7500 kilometre coast line may be about 40 GW. However, the realistic economical potential, the report claims, is likely to be considerably less. A significant barrier to surface energy harvesting is the interference of its equipment to fishing and other sea bound vessels, particularly in unsettled weather. India built its first seas surface energy harvesting technology demonstration plant in Vizhinjam, near Thiruruvananthpuram.
The third approach to harvesting tidal energy consists of ocean thermal energy technology. This approach tries to harvest the solar energy trapped in ocean waters into usable energy. Oceans have a thermal gradient, the surface being much warmer than deeper levels of ocean. This thermal gradient may be harvested using modified Rankine cycle. India's National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) attempted this approach over the last 20 years, but without success. In 2003, with Saga University of Japan, NIOT attempted to build and deploy a 1 MW demonstration plant. However, mechanical problems prevented success. After initial tests near Kerala, the unit was scheduled for redeployment and further development in the Lakshadweep Islands in 2005. The demonstration project's experience have limited follow-on efforts with ocean thermal energy technology in India.
Problems with India's power sector
- Government giveaways such as free electricity for farmers, partly to curry political favour, have depleted the cash reserves of state-run electricity-distribution system. This has financially crippled the distribution network, and its ability to pay for power to meet the demand. This situation has been worsened by government departments of India that do not pay their bills.
- Shortages of fuel: despite abundant reserves of coal, India is facing a severe shortage of coal. The country isn't producing enough to feed its power plants. Some plants do not have reserve coal supplies to last a day of operations. India's monopoly coal producer, state-controlled Coal India, is constrained by primitive mining techniques and is rife with theft and corruption; Coal India has consistently missed production targets and growth targets. Poor coal transport infrastructure has worsened these problems. To expand its coal production capacity, Coal India needs to mine new deposits. However, most of India's coal lies under protected forests or designated tribal lands. Any mining activity or land acquisition for infrastructure in these coal-rich areas of India, has been rife with political demonstrations, social activism and public interest litigations.
- Poor pipeline connectivity and infrastructure to harness India's abundant coal bed methane and shale gas potential.
- The giant new offshore natural gas field has delivered less fuel than projected. India faces a shortage of natural gas.
- Hydroelectric power projects in India's mountainous north and northeast regions have been slowed down by ecological, environmental and rehabilitation controversies, coupled with public interest litigations.
- India's nuclear power generation potential has been stymied by political activism since the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
- Average transmission, distribution and consumer-level losses exceeding 30% which includes auxiliary power consumption of thermal power stations, etc.
- Over 30 crore (300 million) people in India have no access to electricity. Of those who do, almost all find electricity supply intermittent and unreliable.
- Lack of clean and reliable energy sources such as electricity is, in part, causing about 80 crore (800 million) people in India to continue using traditional biomass energy sources – namely fuelwood, agricultural waste and livestock dung – for cooking and other domestic needs. Traditional fuel combustion is the primary source of indoor air pollution in India, causes between 300,000 to 400,000 deaths per year and other chronic health issues.
- India’s coal-fired, oil-fired and natural gas-fired thermal power plants are inefficient and offer significant potential for greenhouse gas (CO2) emission reduction through better technology. Compared to the average emissions from coal-fired, oil-fired and natural gas-fired thermal power plants in European Union (EU-27) countries, India’s thermal power plants emit 50% to 120% more CO2 per kWh produced.
The July 2012 blackout, affecting the north of the country, was the largest power grid failure in history by number of people affected.
Resource potential in electricity sector
According to Oil and Gas Journal, India had approximately 38 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2011, world's 26th largest. United States Energy Information Administration estimates that India produced approximately 1.8 Tcf of natural gas in 2010, while consuming roughly 2.3 Tcf of natural gas. The electrical power and fertiliser sectors account for nearly three-quarters of natural gas consumption in India. Natural gas is expected to be an increasingly important component of energy consumption as the country pursues energy resource diversification and overall energy security.
Until 2008, the majority of India's natural gas production came from the Mumbai High complex in the northwest part of the country. Recent discoveries in the Bay of Bengal have shifted the centre of gravity of Indian natural gas production.
The country already produces some coalbed methane and has major potential to expand this source of cleaner fuel. According to a 2011 Oil and Gas Journal report, India is estimated to have between 600 to 2000 Tcf of shale gas resources (one of the world’s largest). Despite its natural resource potential, and an opportunity to create energy industry jobs, India has yet to hold a licensing round for its shale gas blocks. It is not even mentioned in India's central government energy infrastructure or electricity generation plan documents through 2025. The traditional natural gas reserves too have been very slow to develop in India because regulatory burdens and bureaucratic red tape severely limit the country’s ability to harness its natural gas resources.
Electricity trading with neighbour countries
Despite low electricity per capita consumption in India, the country is going to achieve surplus electricity generation during the 12th plan (2012 to 2017) period provided its coal production and transport infrastructure is developed adequately. Surplus electricity can be exported to the neighbour countries in return for natural gas supplies from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan are producing substantial natural gas and using for electricity generation purpose. Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan produce 55 million cubic metres per day (mcmd), 9 mcmd and 118 mcmd out of which 20 mcmd, 1.4 mcmd and 34 mcmd are consumed for electricity generation respectively. Whereas the natural gas production in India is not even adequate to meet its non-electricity requirements.
Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan have proven reserves of 184 billion cubic metres (bcm), 283 bcm and 754 bcm respectively. There is ample opportunity for mutually beneficial trading in energy resources with these countries. India can supply its surplus electricity to Pakistan and Bangladesh in return for the natural gas imports by gas pipe lines. Similarly India can develop on BOOT basis hydro power projects in Nepal, Myanmar and Bhutan.
Already, India has constructed few hydro projects in Bhutan totaling nearly 2600 MW. Most of the electricity generated by Bhutan from these hydro projects is presently exported to India. India can also enter into long term power purchase agreements with China for developing the hydro power potential in Brahmaputra River basin of Tibet region. India can also supply its surplus / imported electricity to Sri Lanka by undersea cable link. There is ample trading synergy for India with its neighbor countries in securing its energy requirements.
India's Ministry of Power launched Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana as one of its flagship programme in March 2005 with the objective of electrifying over one lakh (100,000) un-electrified villages and to provide free electricity connections to 2.34 crore (23.4 million) rural households. This free electricity programme promises energy access to India's rural areas, but is in part creating problems for India's electricity sector.
Human resource development
Rapid growth of electricity sector in India demands that talent and trained personnel become available as India's new installed capacity adds new jobs. India has initiated the process to rapidly expand energy education in the country, to enable the existing educational institutions to introduce courses related to energy capacity addition, production, operations and maintenance, in their regular curriculum. This initiative includes conventional and renewal energy.
A Ministry of Renewal and New Energy announcement claims State Renewable Energy Agencies are being supported to organise short-term training programmes for installation, operation and maintenance and repair of renewable energy systems in such places where intensive RE programme are being implemented. Renewable Energy Chairs have been established in IIT Roorkee and IIT Kharagpur.
Education and availability of skilled workers is expected to be a key challenge in India's effort to rapidly expand its electricity sector.
Regulation and administration
The Ministry of Power is India's apex central government body regulating the electrical energy sector in India. This ministry was created on 2 July 1992. It is responsible for planning, policy formulation, processing of projects for investment decisions, monitoring project implementation, training and manpower development, and the administration and enactment of legislation in regard to thermal, hydro power generation, transmission and distribution. It is also responsible for the administration of India's Electricity Act (2003), the Energy Conservation Act (2001) and to undertake such amendments to these Acts, as and when necessary, in conformity with the Indian government's policy objectives.
Effective 28 October 2012, the Union Minister of state for Power is Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia.
Electricity is a concurrent subject at Entry 38 in List III of the seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. In India's federal governance structure this means that both the central government and India's state governments are involved in establishing policy and laws for its electricity sector. This principle motivates central government of India and individual state governments to enter into memorandum of understanding to help expedite projects and reform electricity sector in respective state.
Government owned power companies
India's Ministry of Power administers central government owned companies involved in the generation of electricity in India. These include National Thermal Power Corporation, Damodar Valley Corporation, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and Nuclear Power Corporation of India. The Power Grid Corporation of India is also administered by the Ministry; it is responsible for the inter-state transmission of electricity and the development of national grid.
The Ministry works with various state governments in matters related to state government owned corporations in India's electricity sector. Examples of state corporations include Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation Limited, Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Kerala State Electricity Board, and Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited.
Funding of power infrastructure
India's Ministry of Power administers Rural Electrification Corporation Limited and Power Finance Corporation Limited. These central government owned public sector enterprises provide loans and guarantees for public and private electricity sector infrastructure projects in India.
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