POWER-GEN Asia brings attention to Indias desperate power sector

POWER-GEN Asia brings attention to India`s desperate power sector

Electricity generation, transmission and distribution automation conferences and expositions team up to bring global focus on Asia

By Ann Chambers

Associate Editor

POWER-GEN Asia is slated for New Delhi, India, Sept. 17-19, drawing attention to a market that has great potential in coming years. India began opening its economy to outside investment in 1991; and despite some bumps in the road, the nation is driving toward an electrified future with a variety of projects, technologies and fuels in line for generation.

India has an average per-capita electricity consumption of 315 kWh annually, placing it very low on the global consumption scale. Current capacity is around 81,000 MW, but much more is needed. The electricity shortage is approximately 9 percent, with peak demand shortfalls averaging 20 percent but spiking to 46 percent in some states.

Lower-than-average rainfall during the monsoon season has contributed to the shortfalls, along with coal shortages and transportation infrastructure difficulties. India also faces transmission and distribution (T&D) issues, with T&D losses averaging 22 percent–far higher than more efficient, modern systems which average 6 to 8 percent in distribution losses.

Indian officials note efforts to maximize output from existing generation assets by increasing the plant load factor of thermal power stations from 55 percent in 1992 to near 60 percent in 1995. The efficiency target for 1996 is set at 62 percent.

Political emphasis in recent years has focused on the “fast track” projects with foreign investors, leaving the state electricity boards (SEB) struggling to find their places. Many of the SEBs have added little, if any, capacity while waiting for the international projects to come on line. Meanwhile, the multinational projects have hit roadblocks, causing construction times to grow and grow; and no new power is yet available.

The power shortage in the country has reached crisis proportions, as an unprecedented wave of grid failures swept the country this spring. Manufacturing firms and other businesses in need of reliable power have turned to self-generation, particularly diesel generating sets, to save their businesses. Many cite losses of time, wages and even contracts due to slow delivery forced by blackouts of up to 16 hours.

Generation was added at 8.4 percent annually in the 1980s, but the figure fell to around 5 percent in the early 1990s; and experts are predicting additions of 2 to 3 percent in 1996. These figures could skyrocket as the fast-track projects begin generating and as manufacturers` cogeneration plants, plus other local small generation enterprises, begin contributing to the grid.

Capacity needs to double in the next 10 to 15 years to accommodate rising demand, estimated at 9-percent growth annually. Demand is projected to escalate past 90,000 MW by 2000. Industry estimates forecast investments of (US)$30 billion will be needed in the coming decade for India`s power sector. Resources of the state-owned public sector are limited, and the growing gap between supply and demand can only be bridged with international cooperation.

Coal is the predominant fuel in India, accounting for more than 70 percent of the generating capacity. There is, however, a drive to diversify the technologies and fuels involved with proposed projects estimated at 47 percent coal, 27 percent hydroelectric, 22 percent gas, 3 percent diesel, and 1 percent other fuels.


C.V.J. Varma, Council of Power Utilities secretary general in New Delhi, reported on India`s power trends and needs during POWER-GEN Asia 1995. “The expansion envisaged in India is so large that the funds and the organization resources have to be massive to achieve the target within a short time.

This requires the existing structure from being monopolistic/monolithic to being unbundled and capable of competition in an open economy,” Varma said. In its “14th Power Survey,” the government forecasted needs to 2010.

By 2000 India will require 517,000 million kWh, with a peak demand of 91,191 MW; and by 2005, peak demand is expected to increase to 127,401 MW. By 2010 peak demand is expected to reach 172,262 MW.

“Long-term forecasts of power requirements cannot be made at the micro level in view of a number of indeterminants. The requirements also may undergo a drastic change once existing restrictions are removed,” Varma said.

Almost half of the total domestic and commercial electricity consumption in the country is for lights and fans. After these appliances, refrigerators are the biggest electricity consumers. India used 43,724 GWh of electricity in 1970, 83,367 GWh in 1980, 190,357 GWh in 1990 and 254,026 GWh in 1994. Electricity is a booming business in India, and POWER-GEN organizers are anticipating widespread local participation from area businesses in generation, transmission, distribution and other areas of the industry as POWER-GEN Asia teams up with Power Delivery Asia and DA/DSM(TM) Asia, all together under the roof of the Pragati Maidan Exhibition Centre in New Delhi.

POWER-GEN alone brought 6,616 visitors and 150 exhibitors to Singapore last fall, with 50 percent of the visitors traveling internationally to attend and 80 percent of the international visitors classified as purchasers. Technical tracks at the conferences will include tracks focusing on Asian power trends and business opportunities; independent power project structuring and finance; solid, liquid and gaseous fuels and associated technologies; nuclear and renewable fuels and associated technologies; hydropower; power plant operations, management and maintenance; distribution automation; distribution management; demand-side management; information technology; power transmission and delivery trends and issues; and transmission and distribution technologies and equipment.

“The next millennium beckons with exciting opportunities in power generation world-wide,” said Mr. Yeo Cheow Tong, Singapore`s minister for trade and industry. “Looking at global economic growth patterns, it is generally agreed that Asia has the highest potential demand for new infrastructure investments. ASEAN and East Asia, in particular, have experienced dynamic industrial growth in recent decades.

As the ASEAN economies continue to grow strongly and the other large regional economies like Indochina, China and India begin to open up and take off, Asia will become the world`s undisputed engine of growth.” He predicted Asia will need up to (US)$50 billion annually in new power stations and transmission networks, which would place more than 40 percent of the new generation capacity to be constructed in the next decade in Asian lands.

“Most governments in the region have recognized that they cannot meet the continued rise in power demand on their own,” Mr. Yeo said. “A multitude of other imperatives to improve the quality of life of their growing populations, like health care and education, compete for fiscal attention.

So to preserve sound macroeconomic policy frameworks, the public sector logically seeks greater private-sector participation to provide the desired investments and energy.”

Click here to enlarge image

Click here to enlarge image

POWER-GEN Asia brought 6,616 visitors and 150 exhibitors together in Singapore last fall. The power generation conference and exposition this year teams up with Power Delivery Asia and DA/DSM(TM) Asia to bring electricity industry professionals from around the globe together in New Delhi, India, on Sept. 17-19.

Click here to enlarge image

Exhibitions offer hands-on learning and one-on-one contacts for manufacturers, exhibitors and technical conference attendees. Pragati Maidan, India`s only world-class exhibition complex, is sited in the heart of New Delhi.

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