As 2017 bids adieu, power woes are easing
PB Jayakumar December 30, 2017
As year 2017 nears to an end, India's power woes are slowly cooling off, thanks to large capacity addition in renewables, improved coal availability for conventional plants and increasing demand for electricity.
The total installed capacity has reached 3,30,861 megawatt (MW) by the end of November, this year. Of this, contribution from the private sector was 44.5 per cent. Despite the exponential growth of renewabls, still thermal remains the mainstay of our electricity requirements, contributing 66.2 per cent or 2,18,960 MW. India's renewable energy capacity grew to 60,158 MW, now contributing 18.2 per cent. Hydro accounts for nearly 45,000 MW with 13.6 per cent, reveals data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
If India produced 1160.14 billion units (BU) of energy with a growth of 4.72 per cent in 2016-17, the country has produed 809.2 billion until November end with a growth of 4.04 per cent in the 2017-18 period. Plant Load Factor (PLF), which determines efficiency of power plants, was 59.88 per cent in 2016-17 and is almost similar at 59.75 per cent until November end. If peak hour demand was 1,59,542 MW in 2016-17, it is slightly higher at 1,64,066 MW until November.
The peak hour power deficit has also come down from a -12.7 per cent in 2009-10 to -2 per cent in 2017-18. Sources say this is due to increasing demand in the last few months and better availability of coal. Coal availabality at power plants has been gradually increasing during the year to 10.2 by end of November. Still there are numerous stranded and uneconomical coal projects on ground and consolidation will continue to happen in year 2018, they predict.
However, the country's power generation growth has been coming down in the last three years, from 8.43 per cent in 2014-15 to 5.64 per cent in 2015-16 and 4.2 per cent in 2016-17. While generation from renewables grew at a rate of 17.04 per cent until November as compared to a 23.97 per cent in 2016-17, generation from conventional sources like coal and lignite are diminishing. Its growth until November, this fiscal was only 4.95 per cent as compared to 5.80 per cent in 2016-17. Year 2017 also saw grid parity for renewables like solar as compared to conventional sources. Some of the projects were bid out for tariffs below grid parity at Rs 2.5-Rs 3 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in April-May.
A cumulative capacity addition of 467 MW of wind has taken place till November end. About 9,500 MW capacity of wind power projects would be bid out by the end of the current financial year. In 2016-17, the net capacity addition of renewables had crossed conventional power as India added 11 gigawatt (GW) of solar and wind as compared to 7GW of coal-based capacity.
A capacity addition of 27.07 GW of renewable energy has been reported during the last three-and-a-half years under grid-connected renewable power, which include 12.87 GW from solar power, 11.70 GW from wind power.