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Power is an essential requirement for all facets of our life and has been recognized as a basic human need. It is the critical infrastructure on which the socio-economic development of the country depends. The growth of the economy and its global competitiveness hinges on the availability of reliable and quality power at competitive rates. The demand of power in India is enormous and is growing steadily. The vast Indian power market, today offers one of the highest growth opportunities for private developers.

India is endowed with a wealth of rich natural resources and sources of energy. Resources for power generation are unevenly dispersed across the country. This can be appropriately and optimally utilized to make available reliable supply of electricity to each and every household. Electricity is considered key driver for targeted 8 to 10% economic growth of India. Electricity supply at globally competitive rates would also make economic activity in the country competitive in the globalized environment.

As per the Indian Constitution, the power sector is a concurrent subject and is the joint responsibility of the State and Central Governments. The power sector in India is dominated by the government. The State and Central Government sectors account for 58% and 32% of the generation capacity respectively while the private sector accounts for about 10%. The bulk of the transmission and distribution functions are with State utilities. The private sector has a small but growing presence in distribution and is making an entry into transmission. Power Sector which had been funded mainly through budgetary support and external borrowings, was opened to private sector in 1991.

Growth of Power Sector

Growth of Power Sector infrastructure in India since its Independence has been noteworthy making India the third largest producer of electricity in Asia. Generating capacity has grown manifold from 1,362 MW in 1947 to 113,506 MW (as on 30.09.2004). The over all generation in India has increased from 301 Billion Units (BUs) during 1992- 93 to 558.1 BUs in 2003- 04.

In its quest for increasing availability of electricity, India has adopted a blend of thermal, hydel and nuclear sources. Out of these, coal based thermal power plants and in some regions, hydro power plants have been the mainstay of electricity generation. Oil, natural gas and nuclear power accounts for a smaller proportion. Of late, emphasis is also being laid on non-conventional energy sources i.e. solar, wind and tidal.

All India Fuelwise Generating Installed Capacity (as on September 30, 2004)

Year Thermal Hydro Nuclear Total
March 1992 48,086 19,194 1,785 69,065
March 1993 50,749 19,576 2,005 72,330
March 1994 54,369 20,379 2,005 76,753
March 1995 58,113 20,833 2,225 81,171
March 1996 60,083 20,986 2,225 83,294
March 1997 61,877 21,642 2,225 85,744

For detailed & updated information on the Indian Power Sector, refer to the report - 'Overview of Power Sector in India'

Electricity Consumption

The elasticity ratio (elasticity of electricity consumption with respect to GDP) was 3.06 in the first Plan and peaked at 5.11 during third plan and declined to 1.65 in the Eighties. While consumption went up by 3.14% for every 1% growth in GDP in the first five-year plan period (1951- 56), it went up by only 0.97% in the eighth plan period (1992- 97).

The growth in electricity consumption over the past decade has been slower than the GDP’s growth. This could be due to high growth of the services sector or it could reflect improving efficiency of electricity use. Moreover, captive generation – which isn’t captured by these numbers — has also increased. However, as growth in the manufacturing sector picks up, the demand for power is also expected to increase at a faster rate. Demand will also increase along with electrification. In order to support a rate of growth of GDP of around 7% per annum, the rate of growth of power supply needs to be over 10% annually.

Per Capita Consumption of Electricity

Per capita consumption of electricity is expected to rise to over 1000 kilowatt hours per annum (kwh/ annum) in next 10 years (from present level of 580 kwh). Compare this against over 10,000 kwh/ annum in the developed countries!

Plant Load Factor (PLF)

The actual all India PLF of Thermal Utilities during April 03- March 04 was 72.7% as against the target of 72.0%.

16th Electric Power Survey (EPS) projections

By the year 2012, India’s peak demand would be 157,107 MW with energy requirement of 975 BU.

Unbalanced Growth & Shortages

Along with this quantitative growth, the Indian electricity sector has also achieved qualitative growth. This is reflected in the advanced technological capabilities and large number of highly skilled personnel available in the country. While this must be appreciated, it must also be realized that the growth of the sector has not been balanced. The availability of power has increased but demand has consistently outstripped supply and substantial energy & peak shortages of 7.1% & 11.2% prevail in India. Coupled with this is the urban-rural dichotomy in supply- as per Census 2001, only about 56% of households have access to electricity, with the rural access being 44% and urban access about 82%. In the case of those who do have electricity, reliability and quality are matters of great concern. The annual per capita consumption, at about 580 kWh is among the lowest in the world.

These problems emanate from:
- inadequate power generation capacity
- lack of optimum utilisation of the existing generation capacity
- inadequate inter-regional transmission links
- inadequate and ageing sub-transmission & distribution network leading to power cuts and local failures/faults
- T&D losses, large scale theft and skewed tariff structure
- slow pace of rural electrification
- inefficient use of electricity by the end consumer
- lack of grid discipline

Year Demand
(billion kWh)
(billion kWh)
Shortfall (%)(billion kWh)
1990-91 267.632 246.560 21.072 7.87
1991-92 288.974 266.432 22.542 7.80
1992-93 305.266 279.824 25.442 8.33
1993-94 323.252 299.494 23.758 7.35
1994-95 352.260 327.281 24.979 7.09
1995-96 389.721 354.045 35.676 9.15
1996-97 413.490 365.900 47.590 11.51
2000-01 507.216 467.400 39.816 7.8
2003-04 559.264 519.398 39.866 7.1

Year Demand Available Shortfall (%)
1990-91 44,005 37,171 6,834 15.53
1991-92 48,035 39,027 9,008 18.79
1992-93 52,805 41,984 10,821 20.49
1993-94 54,875 44,830 10,045 18.31
1994-95 57,530 48,066 9,464 16.45
1995-96 60,981 49,836 11,145 18.28
1996-97 63,853 52,376 11,477 17.97
2000-01 74,872 65,628 9,244 12.3
2003-04 84,574 75,066 9,508 11.2

For detailed & updated information on the Indian Power Sector, refer to the report - 'Overview of Power Sector in India'

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