Power is one of the most critical components of infrastructure, affecting economic growth and wellbeing of nations. The existence and development of adequate power infrastructure is essential for sustained growth of the Indian economy. India currently has an installed capacity of about 248.510 GW and is the world's third largest producer of electricity with 4.8% global share in electricity generation. In contrast, over one third of India's rural population and 6% of the urban population have no access to electricity. Of those who have access to electricity, the supply is often intermittent and unreliable. A favourable policy environment, tackling fuel shortages, augmentation of generation capacities, improvements in transmission and distribution, reducing AT&C losses, customer driven cost effective technology interventions are some of the priorities for the sector. Renewables have the potential of making the country’s energy basket more competitive and sustainable, so viable business models for mainstreaming them are the need of the hour.
In this context, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised the fifth edition of Energy Conclave, the annual initiative of CII on 12 August 2014 at Kolkata. The Conclave focused on creating an enabling ecosystem for the power sector and this year the theme of the conference was “Facilitating Access to Clean, Reliable and Affordable Power”.
Energy Conclave is the biggest forum of the energy sector in the eastern region and over the years it has evolved into a platform for policy makers, thought leaders, investors, utilities, regulators, funding agencies, industry stakeholders, equipment manufacturers and energy professionals to deliberate on the key issues and best practices of the sector and create a roadmap for future development.
Speaking in the Inaugural session of the Conclave, Mr Manish Gupta, Minister for Power and Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Goverment of West Bengal mentioned that West Bengal plans to set up a 250-MW solar project in Purulia at an estimated cost of Rs 1,400 crore. “The largest solar project in the country will feed the 900-MW Purulia pumped-storage project of the state electricity distribution utility,” said Mr Gupta. Around 40% funds are going to be sourced from the Union Government clean energy fund, and the rest from other sources.
Mr Gupta also disclosed that two more pumped- storage projects – 1,000 MW each at Turga and Bandu in the Ayodhya Hills in Purulia – will be commissioned soon. Each will cost Rs 6,000-7,000 crore, the Minister said, adding that each of such projects will have captive mega solar power projects in the longer run.
Mr Gupta also spoke of the need for maximum focus accorded to energy security. “We must introspect what has been happening and Why have we not been able to achieve the desired results? In my view, at the heart of the crisis is the shortage of supply of coal. Coal prices per se are increasing, putting enormous pressure on consumers. We need serious reforms in the coal sector. Even if we fully exploit the coal reserves, it will not last more than 30-40 years. Renewable sources are the only solution,” Mr Gupta said.
Ms Neerja Mathur, Chairperson, Central Electricity Authority, said in per capita consumption of power is seen as the index of growth and health of a country’s economy. “Capacity addition is a must to make sure every citizen in the country has access to clean electricity at an affordable price.” She also listed 'two major challenges' impeding the energy sector. “First, there is an acute shortage of fuel, and second, is the poor financial health of discoms. It is high time we rationalized coal linkages,” she said.
She also revealed that the Union Government is working on a plan to upgrade technologies at conventional power plants. “By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan, all coal-based plans would be upgraded from sub-critical to super-critical categories. This will not only enhance efficiency but will also cut down on fuel requirements,” she said.
Mr Bhaskar Jyoti Sarma, Secretary, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, also underscored the need for improved technologies and rationalization of logistics to ensure optimum utilization of the available resources.
Mr N S Nigam, Chairman & Managing Director, West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL), said energy requires maximum attention. “Concerted efforts are needed to make sure that the sector is not only linked to the financial market, but also integrated to whole lot of innovative financial instruments.”
Mr Markus Wypior, Director, Indo German Energy Forum, told of the European superpower’s intent on helping India transition from coal-based power plants to the renewable. "India is more suitable to solar power than Germany because of its climatic advantage. Germany will be happy to provide the technology and expertise", he said.
Mr Aniruddha Basu, Chairman, Energy Task Force, CII Eastern Region & Managing Director, CESC Ltd, said tackling fuel shortages, augmentation of generation capacities, improvement in transmission and distribution, reduction of AT&C losses, customer-driven and cost-effective technology interventions are some of the priorities. “Renewables have the potential of making the country’s energy basket more competitive and sustainable, so viable business models for mainstreaming them are the need of the hour,” he added.
Mr Siddharth Mehta, Co-Chairman, CII Energy Task Force and CEO, India Power Corporation Ltd, delivered the vote of thanks.
For more information, please visit event website www.cii.in