Confident of resolving woes of the power sector, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia says that the country's electricity generation capacity will leapfrog to nearly 315 gigawatts by fiscal year 2016-17 with an estimated investment of about Rs five lakh crore.
"Investments are already on stream. All we need to do for meeting this target of power generation is to resolve all the issues faced by the sector. Once these problems are resolved then the investments would be put in place," Scindia said.
Admitting that all the four main areas of the power sector -- generation, transmission, distribution and last-mile solutions -- have their own issues, the Minister told PTI in an interview that he is confident of resolving those problems and the required initiatives are being put in place.
"Each of these areas have its own characteristics, its own peculiarities, its own issues for which very customised solutions have to be devised," said the 42-year-old Scindia who took over as the Power Minister about five months ago.
The sector has been in rough weathers for many months, with the generation companies facing major problems like fuel shortage and regulatory hurdles. At the same time, the country is also facing significant power shortages, mainly due to problems in the distribution and last-mile segments.
Recalling that the country's power generation capacity has come a long way from just 1,625 MW at the time of independence in 1947, the minister said the capacity has gone up from 65,000 MW in 1991 to 228,000 MW at the end of the last fiscal, 2012-13.
"The target is to take the generation capacity further to 315 gigawatts (315,000 MW) by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan period ending in fiscal 2016-17.
"In the first year of 12th Plan, that is 2012-13, we recorded the highest capacity addition and generation in the history of India," he said.
"That is the past. In five years of 12th Plan, I plan to add 88 gigawatts, that is roughly about 17 gigawatts per year. Of that, in the first year itself, I have already exceeded 17 gigawatts," Scindia said.
Asked about the estimated investment required for such an ambitious expansion target, Scindia said that investments are are already on stream.
"For thermal, we need an estimated investment of Rs 5 crore per megawatt, for hydro power it is Rs 8.5 crore and Rs 11 crore for nuclear. Out of 88 gigawatts planned to be added in 12th Plan Period, 67 gigawatts would be thermal, hydro would be about 10 gigawatts and nuclear would be around 5-6 gigawatts," he said.
Together, these investments would total to an estimated amount of about Rs five lakh crore.
Scindia said he is also looking for diversity in the country's electricity generation portfolio by tapping renewable sources like wind and solar, as also nuclear power in a larger way.
The minister further said the future target would be to exceed 400 gigawatts in the 13th Five-Year Plan period that would begin in 2017-18.
"That's the long-term target. Today, we are looking at 12th Plan only and to achieve that target we need to resolve all the pending issues. Once these problems are resolved then the investments would be put in place," he said.
Scindia said all these problems need to be resolved to make the entire value chain viable and increase the investments.
"Within generation, you have fuel supply issues. You have issues that need to be resolved with regard to Electricity Act, issues with regard to coal mines.
"I have outlined the priorities and many issues have been resolved in the last five months I have been in the Ministry, especially in the areas of power generation," he said.