Private power developers are expected to supply a large percentage of India`s new capacity

To meet its demand for more electricity India plans to add more than 30,000 MW of new capacity through 1997

Douglas J. Smith

Managing Editor

India developed its first hydroelectric power plant in the late 19th century. The plant, a 200-kW station at Darjeeling, went into operation in 1887. Two years later a 1-MW steam driven power plant was constructed in Calcutta.

The Indian Electricity Supply Act, passed in 1948, formed three types of electric utilities for generation and distribution: state electricity boards, licensee companies and generating companies. At the same time five regional transmission systems were developed: the northern, southern, eastern, western and northeastern regions. In the 1980s, India started to construct and put into commercial operation many large fossil-fired power plants. The country also started the development of regional grids.

Like all large developing countries India had areas where there was a surplus of electric capacity and areas that lacked sufficient capacity. However, economic exchange of power from areas with abundant electric capacity to power starved regions of the country could not be achieved. The reasons for the constraints were:

– Surplus power was being made available to regions on the basis of cost and not on sound economic principles.

– Lack of grid discipline resulted in poor quality and unreliable power supply.

– Inadequate transmission capability, metering, communications and controls.

With a multiplicity of central generating organizations and joint ventures owning and operating their own transmission lines and substations, India faced many operational and commercial problems with the existing electric supply systems. To overcome these problems India decided to integrate all of its transmission lines and substations under one central transmission group. The outcome of this was the formation of the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (POWERGRID) in 1989.

POWERGRID is now responsible for the construction, ownership, operation and maintenance of all new interstate high-voltage transmission lines. They also own, operate and maintain India`s existing transmission systems. Power pools are being established to facilitate the exchange of electric power between different states and regions of India. The aim is the formation of an Indian national power grid.

When India became independent in 1947 the total installed generating capacity was 1,362 MW. By 1994 this had grown to 76,718 MW (Figure 1). Coal-fired power plants account for 70 percent of the total installed capacity. The remaining 30 percent is split between hydroelectric with 25 percent and 5 percent from natural gas, oil and nuclear (Figure 2). In 1994, India had an energy shortage of 8.5 percent. However, at peak periods India`s shortage reaches 18.8 percent. During 1994, Indian industry accounted for 47 percent of the total electricity produced and agriculture 27 percent.

Although India consumed 308,521 MWhr of electricity in 1994, it had a demand of more than 380,000 MWhr, a shortfall of just over 76,000 MWhr. By 2005 this shortfall is expected to reach 220,000 MWhr.

Today, India utilizes coal, lignite, hydro, natural gas and nuclear to generate electricity. Fossil-fired thermal power plants, with a total installed capacity of 53,045 MW, will continue to supply the bulk of India`s electricity requirements. Because of the need for India to improve the efficiency and availability of its existing thermal power plants, a renovation and modernization program for 162 of the country`s thermal units has been started. In addition, India has plans to add 30,538 MW of new capacity through 1997. This new capacity will be supplied by thermal (20,156 MW), nuclear (1,100 MW) and hydroelectric (9,282 MW).

Electric power in Northern India

Haryana state, in the northern region of India, saw its peak requirements go from 967 MW in 1986 to 2,044 MW in 1992. However, during the same period the state`s installed capacity only increased 327 MW. Because the area is agricultural the state sees a major demand for electricity during the crop season. To help reduce peak demand during the growing season the state has started an energy conservation program. Part of this program is improving the efficiency of more than 4,000 pumps used by the agricultural sector. In addition, they have made installation of capacitors mandatory on all agricultural motors.

Although Himachal Pradesh, another state in the northern region of India, has a predominantly agricultural and horticultural economy it is making progress in industrialization. Some of its major industries include fertilizers, cement plants and fruit processing plants. Peak demand for electricity is expected to more than double by 2002. At that time the area is expected to have a peak demand of more than 1,200 MW. According to the State Electricity Board, some of the new capacity will be supplied from privately developed projects. Figure 3 shows the expected additional capacity to be added through 2002.

Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (SEB) has a good transmission and distribution system and is able to cater to the needs of a variety of consumers. However, there is a need to strengthen and improve the transmission in the state. This will be accomplished by constructing 500 km of 132 kV line and a number of substations. Plans call for 100 percent of the area`s villages to be electrified by the middle of 1998.

The northern region`s Punjab state has its electric power requirements supplied by the Punjab State Electricity Board. Only 55 percent of the states` peak demand of approximately 3,100 MW is supplied by the Punjab State Electricity Board. The remainder is imported into the area. By the beginning of 1997, the peak demand is expected to grow to 4,482 MW and by 2002 to 5,871 MW. Thermal and hydroelectric power will supply the bulk of the new capacity.

Rajasthan state, the second largest state in India, and also located in the northern region, is suffering from a chronic shortage of electric power. To meet its electricity demands the state has to purchase high cost electric power from neighboring states. Between now and 2002, the state`s peak demand will nearly triple to 5,901 MW. This year Rajasthan is expected to face a shortage of 3,735 MW. In addition, because the population density is low the state must invest in new transmission and distribution systems (Figure 4). At the beginning of 1992 fewer than 77 percent of the villages in Rajasthan were electrified.

The City of Delhi and New Delhi, with a population of more than 62 million people, is located in northern India. Currently the city has a peak electric requirement of 1,270 MW which is expected to increase to 3,650 MW by the beginning of 2002. Plans call for adding just over 1,000 MW by March of 1997.

Western region of India

When Gujarat became a state in 1961 there was only 315 MW of installed electric capacity. Gujarat Electricity Board owned 143 MW while private licensees, including Ahmadabad Electric Co., owned the remaining capacity. By 1992, the state`s installed electric capacity has increased to 5,517 MW. Unlike Indian states in the northern region, Gujarat state has limited hydroelectric resources. The state currently has two hydroelectric power plants: the 305-MW Ukai station and the 120-MW plant at Kadana.

Guijarat Electricity Board has 73.5 percent of the States` installed electric capacity and the private sector has 11.8 percent. Imports of electricity amount to 14.7 percent. Ahmadabad Electric Co. has an installed capacity of 550 MW.

Madhya Pradesh state is home to a number of major industries including steel and aluminum plants and manufacturing facilities. Electric peak demand is restricted to 3,022 MW. However, by the year 2002 the peak demand is expected to grow to 6,973 MW. To meet the increased demand for electricity the State Electricity Board is looking at the private and government sectors to construct new power plants.

The western state of Maharashtra is highly industrialized and accounts for 23 percent of India`s total industrial production. Bombay is its capital. Maharashtra state has three power generation and supply agencies: Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Tata Power Co. and Nuclear Power Corp. Between them they have a total electric capacity of 9,390 MW. The Electricity Board owns 7,464 MW of the area`s capacity. At present the state has a need for 6,864 MW. Figure 5 indicates the growth in electric peak demand through 2002.

Southern region state utilities

Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board is responsible for supplying the southern state of Andhra Pradesh with electricity. The State Electricity Board headquarters is in the state`s capital, Hyderabad. During the last 30 years, the installed capacity of Andhra Pradesh has grown from 213 MW to a little more than 4,000 MW in 1992 (Figure 6).

Most of the electric power requirements for Andhra Pradesh are generated within the state. However, some of the State`s capacity needs are supplied from other units in India through the National Power Grid.

Between now and 2002 more than 7,000 MW of new capacity will be added by the private and state electric utilities. Thermal power will account for 5,485 MW of the new capacity while hydroelectric power plants and natural gas-fired plants will supply 1,749 MW and 1,175 MW respectively. Simultaneous with the growth in new generating capacity will come new transmission and distributions systems (Figure 7).

Karnataka state, east of the state of Andhra Pradesh, has been 100 percent electrified since 1989. In 1994 the state`s installed capacity was approximately 3,000 MW. The state generates 77 percent of its own electricity and imports the remainder. Peak demand in 1992 was 3,146 MW.

Approximately one third of the hydroelectric power potential of Karnataka State has been developed.

The state has short western flowing rivers and because they originate at high elevations and flow through hilly terrain they are ideally suited for electric power generation. It is estimated that the hydroelectric potential in Karnataka is 7,700 MW.

Although thermal fuel resources in Karnataka are expensive the state does have one 210-MW thermal power plant: the three-unit Raichur Thermal Power Station. A fourth unit is being added which when complete will double the station`s output to 420 MW. A 470-MW nuclear power plant is also under construction. The state of Karnataka is researching the use of wind, solar and wave power to supply some of the state`s future electric energy needs. Two other Southern Region states, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, expect to see their peak demand for electricity rise substantially by 2002. Kerala will see its peak demand rise from 1,576 MW to 3,159 MW while Tamil Nadu`s peak will increase from 3,953 MW to 7,230 MW. The majority of the new electric capacity will be supplied by thermal power plants.

The future looks promising

Although estimates vary for the amount of new capacity that India needs, it is generally acknowledged that it will need to add 150,000 MW to 200,000 MW by 2010. Coal-fired thermal power plants are expected to supply the biggest percentage of new capacity. For the next few years growth in demand is likely to exceed the increase in India`s electric capacity.

Because India`s central and state governments are not able to allocate sufficient capital to meet the demands of the electric power supply system, the Indian government is encouraging private development of new generating capacity. India`s electric power market is substantial and over the next 10 years private power developers will no doubt be a big player in helping India reach its economic goals for the next century.

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