October 2016 must count as a significant month for the Indian power sector. It was when the conventional power capacity additions met the targets set for the 12th Plan Period (2012-17). For the first time in history, the plan targets were met five months ahead of schedule.
The Centre aimed to get installed 88,537 MW of thermal, hydro and nuclear power capacity during the plan period; as at end October, the capacity additions were 88,928.22 MW, or 100.44 per cent of the target.
By the end of November, the number increased to 90,463.22 MW, or 102.18 per cent of the target, according to data provided by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). However, beneath the broad numbers, the story is not as rosy. While thermal exceeded its targets, hydro and nuclear fell short.
Within thermal, State government and private sector projects exceeded their targets, while those of the Centre stayed below the finish line. As at the end of November, India’s electricity generation capacity from conventional sources, stood at 262,917.28 MW.
Adding the 45,916.95 MW of renewable energy capacity (wind, solar, biomass and small hydro), the total power capacity in the country stood at 308,834.28 MW. Coal power accounted for 187,802.88 MW of this. CEA’s data also shows that power deficit has been almost eliminated. In November 2016, peak time and non-peak time power deficit were down to 0.6 per cent and 0.7 per cent of the demand.
A number of completed thermal plants — notably, around 10,000 MW of gas-fired plants — are lying shut. For example, only one of the two 600 MW units of IL&FS in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, is operational, though the other unit is also ready for generation. Industry experts say that when these plants begin to produce energy, India will become surplus on power.