Complex power losses in the Indian grid

Dear Sir,

This refers to your news article on p.11 in the Jan/Feb 1998 issue on transmission losses in India. Please note that losses in India are not 49 000 MW against an installed capacity of 81 000 MW for several reasons:

1) About 30 per cent of the capacity in India is more than 30 years old and operating at derated capacity. These plants, totalling about 25 000 MW, require a large amount of financial support for their rehabilitation and modernisation, and operate at about 20 per cent power load factor (PLF). Hence about 19 000 MW generation capacity cannot be utilised, although it is still reflected in the installed capacity.

2) Another 30 per cent of capacity is operating at 50 per cent PLF resulting in non utilisation of about 12 000 MW of the generation capacity.

3) In addition, the installed capacity does not reflect the nation`s actual generation capability because it does not account for the deration of capacity over the last 50 years. Many aging plants in developed countries have been closed down simply because they are not economical to run. In India, 90 per cent of the power generation is by government corporations which are not ready to close plants even though it would be cheaper to do so.

4) The agricultural sector, which consumes 35 per cent of the total power generated, is not metered at all. Many states supply power free of cost, for example Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, while others supply power at 10 to 20 per cent of actual generation cost. This has been done for the last 30 years to aid food production.

Sincerely,

Rajeev Kaul

India

RK-EPC@powai.ltindia.com

A: Thank you for your letter and your valued comments. India`s power system is very complex, a factor which can be difficult to portray in a short news item. However, I believe we did highlight some of these issues in an article you may have read in our April 1999 issue: “Energy crisis? Blame it on the tariff”.