Government sets higher power generation goal

Electricity output has suffered a setback due to fuel shortage

Despite the failure to meet the power generation capacity target in the 11th five year plan, the Union Ministry of Power has again set an ambitious goal of 75,785 MW capacity additions in 12th five year plan (2012-2017).

During the coming five year plan period, the government plans to give more thrust to coal based power generation (62,695 MW). The power through hydro will be 9,204 MW, gas 1,088 MW and nuclear 2,800 MW says the report of the ministry’s working group.

Though the Centre had set a target of adding 78,700 MW during 11th five year (2007-2012), it could an only achieve 52,000 MW (till March 2012) with the shortfall being a  whopping 26,700 MW.

Power generation suffered a set back in the country due to fuel shortage owing to stagnant domestic coal production and lower-than-expected gas output, delay in environmental clearances, and scarcity of fund which also threatened the  country’s  economic growth.

In the 12th plan, the peak hour demand for power in the country is expected to be 1, 98,000 MW. The energy requirement will be 1403 billion units. The sector required a funding of Rs 13,72,580 crore including for generation, transmission and distribution of power, says the report. However, the report also cautioned that sector might face a fund shortfall of around Rs 2,01,707 crore.

The Power Ministry also suggested that the railways should augment its capacity to improve the transport of coal, providing better railway connectivity to all ports. It should have coal unloading facilities and adequate coal handling arrangements at ports.

Amidst the prevailing problems being faced by the sector,  several top executives of private sector power companies will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday and push for swifter action to improve access to coal and make it easier to get funding, acquire land and get environmental clearances.

Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata, his deputy Cyrus Mistry, Reliance Power Chairman Anil Ambani, Adani Power Chairman Gautam Adani and top executives from other private power firms will be part of the delegation, organised by the Association of Power Producers. The executives will also meet ministers in charge of finance, coal, petroleum and environment the same day.

India has an installed capacity of 1,87,000 MW, about a fifth of China’s capacity, and a peak-hour deficit of about 12 percent. As coal accounts for more than half of the country’s total power generation and will be required for about 85 per cent of the target capacity addition in 12th five year plan, the report said.

Though India has about 10 per cent of the world’s coal reserves, the power sector struggles to get enough fuel because of the challenges in terms of  getting environmental clearances for mining and land acquisition.

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