A vital constituent of India’s economic growth and development is power, or electricity. As the 5th largest electricity producer worldwide, the power sector in India is one of the most dynamic and challenging sectors for any government. In May 2014, when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government assumed office, the entire cabinet ministry was in for a major overhaul. With this, Piyush Goyal assumed office as the Minister of Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy. In a time span of approximately 2 years, a lot has happened in this sector since then.
When the current government assumed office, over 18,452 villages in India were without electricity. As of June 2016, over 8,000 of these remote villages have been electrified. This has been done under the “Garv Grameen Vidyutikaran” scheme that aims to electrify the remaining 9,675 villages as well. Anyone wishing to check on the status of this scheme can do so via his or her mobile apps and website.
As per claims of the ministry, the overall capacity witnessed an increase of 60GW over the last 2 years, whereas only 240GW has been added over the period of the 65 years before that. The Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana, or the UDAY, launched in 2015, is geared towards reviving the Power DISCOMS in the country that are currently ridden with debt. As of June 2016, 10 states have signed the MOUs for this initiative. The government is expected to generate ₹ 3.4 lakh crores of revenue for the coal bearing states by allotting coal blocks and e-auctions with maximum transparency.
Moving on to alternate power sources, there has been steady growth in these segments as well. As per the projected figures, a 16% increase in the share of solar power capacity in the renewable energy sector in FY2016 is expected. The total installed thermal power capacity was 195.6 GW as per the latest estimates, while the hydro and renewable energy capacity stood at 42.5GW & 36.5GW. The nuclear energy sector witnessed a considerable increase as well, with a capacity of 5.8GW. The total nuclear capacity had stayed the same in the 2010-15.
A special mention must be made on the solar panel efficiency as well. Until now, commercial solar panels did not have efficiency greater than 22%. However, in recent experiments, 44% efficiency is being observed via the new solar panel technologies.
Where is it going now?
The demand for energy has been growing at a rate that is more than 6% per year. Fossil fuels contribute to 80% of the demand for power. The government plans to add another 175 GW of power by renewable sources by the year 2022. As mentioned earlier, the government plans to add Ultra Mega Power Plants, the sale agreements for which are already determined.
Thus, with this, it is safe to conclude that the Indian Power Sector has nowhere to go but up in the coming years- strong growth with sustainability is what the government is targeting now. How that pans out as the years roll by will be an interesting development.