There is a Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times”. The expression is usedironically, with the thought that times of peace and tranquillity are ‘uninteresting’ while chaotic times being counted as ‘interesting’ ones. We are living in interesting times of highest ever power access disparity in India. Despite galloping installed capacity additions of 54 GW during last five year plan and 88 GW further capacity addition being well on target in 12th plan, the prevailing price of power in southern region stands on an average higher by 150% compared to Northern and Western region of the country. With about 280 GW capacity being put in place, country is able to use only about 140 GW in peak demand, leaving behind a lurking peak deficit at about 9% impacting 0.4% of GDP growth.

India is the fourth largest consumer of energy with consumption of over 614 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe). Coal remains a staple to India’s energy needs and even though the country produced 565.76 million tonnes of coal in 2013-14 (an increase of 1.7 per cent over FY 2012-13), it is still not enough to satiate the country’s growing demand for energy, commensurate with the growing population and rising standards of living. The total import of coal has increased by 15.5 per cent (i.e from 145.80 million tonnes to 164.44 million tonnes) to meet the growing demand.

Date: 06-09-2015     Author: Dr. Ramakrishna R Sonde

An Eassay on Imperatives on faster translation of “near-viable and still-in -R&D technologies” into commercially viable ones using the triple mantra of technology, manufacturing and appropriate policy and financial instruments.

South Asian countries continue to lag behind their developed counterparts in terms of access and availability of quality electricity supply (Figure 1). Availability of power supply still remains a drag on the economic growth and development in South Asia, despite the fact that a number of countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have witnessed moderate to significant power sector reforms that include partial or full unbundling of the erstwhile state-owned power sector utilities and setting up of electricity regulatory commissions (See Singh et al. (2015) for further discussion).

Electricity customers in most parts of India are a deprived lot as the state discoms decide to feed electricity requirements indiscriminately or load shed them alternatively. Access to electricity remains poor - the per capita consumption today is less than 1,000 kWh, which is much lower than the world average of approximately 3,000 kWh. Supply to end consumers in many states is only for 12-14 hrs. Ironically, even as states claim to be power surplus, and trade surplus power at Rs 2.50/unit over exchange, diesel generators run at an average cost of Rs 15/kWh.

Date: 06-09-2015     Author: Shravan Sampath

The country still has several pockets where conventional power needs to be transmitted hundreds of kilometers through inefficient transmission infrastructure. The highways of Rajasthan or the winding roads of Northeast India are often spotted with villages that are not connected to the grid and need special support to be electrified. An often-quoted world-bank statistic is that over 400 million people in India do not have access to electricity. While this number may be misleading as a lot of good work has been done under various rural electrification schemes over the past 10 years, it is of no doubt that much more is required to be done. There is a significant gap in the technically electrified villages and the villages where electricity is available for a minimum of 6-8 hours in a day. Moreover, transmission of electricity over such long distances through transmission lines is often extremely inefficient. It is for these reasons that off-grid electrification needs to be taken up in a serious manner.

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) released, on 30th June 2008, inter alia includes specific action points for promoting deployment, resolving the barriers to development, and commercial deployment of biomass amongst other renewable energy technologies, and promoting biomass combustion and biomass gasification technologies. In the context of energy security and the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need for accelerated harnessing of all renewable energy sources, especially biomass based energy, feeding power to the grid, and off-grid applications. 

Date: 23-09-2015     Author: Dr. T. R. Shankar Raman, Dr M. D. Madhusudan

Can India reconcile the needs of ecology and equity against the demands of energy and economy? This is one of the major questions that confronts this developing nation undergoing major demographic, social, and economic changes. India’s renewed emphasis on power generation, transmission, and distribution, and associated infrastructuredevelopment, plays a significant role in this growing economy. And yet, this carries both promises and problems for the country’s ecology and society.

I was utterly confused while skimming through the report by the high-level committee appointed by the Government of India under T.S.R. Subramaniam to review various acts governing our environment. Many constitution experts, sociologists as well as ecologists believe that an assessment report of such complexity deserves extremely skilful handling by specialists from respective streams of specialisation. However,the team assigned this responsibility appears to be absolutely unfamiliar in handling the subject .

Date: 06-09-2015     Author: Sanjeev Kanchan, Aruna Kumarankandath

While moving towards renewable energy sources, India needs to ensure efficient coal-based generation with high end technologies. Since coal will continue to dominate, cleaning the sector is the only way out.

Power is crucial for the development of a country. Being a developing one, access to power is a big challenge which India has for its people, agriculture and industry. Here, the trilemma comes; the need of low cost power, adequate supply and environment conservation. And the zeroed-in option for India is coal as a source of electricity which is a taboo. Above 60 per cent of the power generation capacity is from coal-based plants, which estimates to around 167GW as of now (CEA, June, 2015). And the taboo brings in pollution with it - emission of particulate matters (PM), sulphur dioxides (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), neurotoxins like mercury and carbon dioxide, the most discussed one.

Date: 06-09-2015     Author: Shripad Dharmadhikary

It is often believed that coal-based power plants near the coast, by virtue of their proximity to the sea, do not create any pressure on water resources. Shripad Dharmadhikary’s visit to Krishnapattanam in Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu exposes the fallacy in that.

(A collection of articles written and published in the Mint newspaper, India, and compiled as one for the IPPAI knowledge document 2015)

The narrative reminds us of the value of ecosystem services provided by nature - rivers, forests, wetlands, grasslands to mention a few. These natural resources are not infinite. How we harvest and manage natural resources is the key to our future.

Date: 09-09-2015     Author: Gaurav Sharma

Despite the euphoria surrounding renewable energy and new schemes announced by the government, the country’s struggle to provide adequate power to an aspiring 1.3 billion population which is going to increase significantly by 2030, continues. The sector has been grappling with issues related to fuel supply availability both coal and gas, weak demand led by the financial woes of discoms, aggressive bidding, and distressed financials of developers. The way things are going now, not only generation companies but equipment manufacturing companies may also require debt restructuring due to a lack of new projects in the pipeline.
This article was published in September 2015 edition of PowerWatch magazine.

The Private Sector’s contribution in the development of critical infrastructure from the era of the British Raj to modern day India is worthy of acknowledgement.

In terms of the power sector, the first steam power plant was set up by CESC (1 MW) in 1899 and the first independent power project was set up at Jegurupadu in Andhra Pradesh (1997) by GVK. GVK’s combined cycle project at Jegurupadu was India’s first privately financed, fast-track, independent power project to come on stream and was expected to serve as a standard for further IPP projects. From then till the recently commissioned thermal units of MB Power (Madhya Pradesh) and Thermal Power Tech (Andhra Pradesh), the private sector has made a rapid and significant impact on the entire gamut of the power sector

Date: 05-09-2015     Author: Dharun Kapur

Beginning from the 1931 census, until recently (in the past two decades), the conversations about India’s rapidly increasing population were mostly concerned with how this growth stood in the way of the country’s march towards development, and acted as a major obstacle in the fight against poverty, illiteracy and other human development parameters. Today, with the birth of a baby approximately every two seconds (Kumar 2009) and a population of over 1.2 billion, which comprises about 1/6th of the total human population, the threat of overpopulation still remains a concern (Roy 2014).

Clean power is the new buzzword in the Indian power sector. Keeping in mind India’s global commitment towards climate change obligations and increase of renewables in the total energy mix of the country’s installed capacity, several projects in solar and wind sectors have been planned over the course of the next seven years. Contrary to this, the share of hydropower in the country’s energy mix is falling precipitously due to the rather slow pace of capacity addition.
This article was published in July 2015 edition of PowerWatch magazine.

Date: 01-04-2015     Author: Gaurav Sharma for IPPAI

The article is a review of state of Indian Power Sector in the year 2014, compiled by Independent Power Producers Association of India (IPPAI). India has world’s fourth-largest generating capacity but per capita consumption of electricity is very low. About a quarter of country’s population still do not have access to electricity. In spite of fast-paced capacity addition in recent years, the country is still facing power deficit. It is high time that power sector reforms are taken up with focus on the consumer and with full involvement of states rather than through complicated, central driven initiatives. Ensuring adequate electricity supply is critical to fuelling the country’s growth ambitions.
This article was published in April 2015 edition of PowerWatch magazine.

Date: 04-03-2015     Author: Meenakashi Lekhi

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, there was a wave of speculation on the energy security situation in the US. As the largest consumer of oil, speculations of possible terror attacks on energy infrastructures led to hikes in oil prices as also due to a series of other events like the general strikes in Venezuela or the Iraq invasion in 2003. All this did affect the overall supply of oil in the market. It recreated the threat of the oil shocks of 1971 and 1973 faced by the US, and consequently led to steps being taken to bolster domestic oil production again.

Date: 04-03-2015     Author: Dr. Gal Luft

For all their differences and historical grievances, Asian countries share the need to strengthen energy security while addressing the environmental challenges that come from fast-growing consumption.

Turmoil in the Middle East, instability in Nigeria and sanctions on Iran and Russia highlight the urgency of reducing the Asian transportation system’s dependence on oil, a volatile commodity facing constant supply risk. Despite the chronic volatility of the oil market, most of Asia’s cars are still made to run on nothing but petroleum.