The year ended March 2015 was truly special for the power sector that appeared to do very well on several counts. M. S. Kapadia, in this special story, analyzes the performance in much detail. The year has closed with record-breaking achievements—improved capacity addition, growing power generation and declining power deficit.
Total power generating capacity increased 19.8 per cent during FY15, against 8.8 per cent in the preceding fiscal and 11.7 per cent two years back. This was made possible by a 24.7 per cent increase in thermal power comprising 26.4 per cent increase in coal-based thermal and 14.7 per cent in gas based plants, 20.9 per cent in nuclear power (after stagnation in the preceding two-three years), 4.5 per cent in large hydropower and 15.1 per cent in renewable energy sources.
The total capacity addition of 60,572 mw in the conventional power during the first three years of the ongoing XII Plan period accounted for around 68 per cent of the capacity addition in the segment targeted for the plan period. Going by the augmentation so far, the XII Plan target of fresh capacity addition of 88,000 mw is likely to be fulfilled, or even surpassed—a healthy show when viewed against the shortfall in the earlier recent plans.
The total grid-connected installed capacity at the end of FY15 was placed at 267,637 mw; comprising 31,692 mw (12 per cent) from rapidly rising non-conventional renewable power (RES) and 88 per cent from conventional power. The share of non-conventional energy that comprises small hydro power, wind power, solar power, biomass/biogas and industrial/urban waste, has doubled from around six per cent six-seven years ago. Thermal power, bulk of coal-fired, constituted four-fifths, large hydro 17 per cent and nuclear just around 3 per cent of conventional power. Captive generation capacity in industries having demand of 1 mwand above, grid interactive (as on 31-03-13) has been placed at 40,726 mw. The installed capacity for RES includes 3,804 mw in small hydro plants, 21,036 in wind power, 4,120 mw in bio-power and 2,632 mw in solar power.
Around 36 per cent of power capacity is in western region, followed by 27 per cent in northern region, 24 per cent in southern region, 12 per cent in eastern region and only 1 per cent in north-eastern, island regions. Western region leads in thermal power and northern region in large hydropower. Southern region leads in renewables, with 44 per cent share in All-India aggregate, followed by western region (36 per cent) and northern region (18 per cent).
Private sector overtakes public utilities
Marking a major change from pattern till recently, private sector has increasingly forayed into power infrastructure in recent years. Thus, during the XI Plan period, over two-fifths of conventional energy capacity addition was at the behest of private sector, with 32 per cent coming from state government utilities and around 26 per cent from Central government power companies. Most of the capacity addition in private sector was in thermal power with hydropower forming just 5 per cent. In addition, around nine-tenths of capacity in RES is in private sector. As a result, the private sector utilities have emerged as the largest ownership group in the power infrastructure in the counting, accounting for 37 per cent of the total grid-connected installed capacity (including RES) at the end of FY15; against 36 per cent by state government utilities and 27 per cent by Central government companies.
Power generation increased by 8.4 per cent during FY15, against 6 per cent in the preceding year and 4 per cent two years back. It also crossed the 1000-billion-kwh mark for the first time. The rate was in fact was the best over more than a decade. Bulk of the growth came from thermal power, which increased by 10.8 per cent. Following poor southwest monsoon, hydropower declined 4.3 per cent and import from Bhutan was down 10.7 per cent. Nuclear power increased by 5.1 per cent.
Most of the increase in thermal power seems to have come from capacity addition. Thus, the PLF at the coal-gas based thermal stations—indicative of capacity use ratio—declined to 65.1 per cent from 65.6 per cent in the preceding year and 70.1 per cent two years back. PLF at nuclear power stations was assessed at 80.5 per cent (81.7 per cent).The decline in PLF happened across regions and the months. PLF at the Central utilities coal-based plants was the best at 73.8 per cent, while it was the lowest at 60.8 per cent in state utilities, against 64.8 per cent at the aggregate level. PLF at lignite-based thermal stations was assessed at 75.2 per cent. PLF at gas based stations was only 20 per cent due to acute shortage of gas leading to stranded capacity.
Generation from renewable sources was estimated to be 56.6 billion kwh (+14 per cent year-on-year) during April-February 2014-15. RES generation was around 6 per cent of total power produced in the conventional utilities.
Among the ownership categories, private sector IPP that accounted for around a fourth of total power produced during the year increased 28 per cent. Central sector utilities which accounted for two-fifths of all-India generation increased it by 2.6 per cent and state government utilities with a little less than two-fifths share generated 4.7 per cent more power during the year. The power generation in private sector public utilities showed 6 per cent annual decline.
Most of the increase in power generation came from the utilities in Western region, which recorded 14.6 per cent increase, which was contributed by thermal stations as hydro generation in the region declined 31 per cent. Northern region followed with 5.7 per cent increase, southern region with 4.7 per cent increase, eastern region with 6.6 per cent increase. Thermal stations in the Southern region had the best PLF of 70 per cent, whereas the stations in the eastern region had PLF of 60 per cent.
Even as the total power requirement in the country increased by 6.5 per cent, against stagnation in the fiscal 2014, ex-bus power availability increased faster by 7.3 per cent (5.6 per cent). Average power shortage, as a result, declined to 3.6 per cent during FY15, from 4.2 per cent in the preceding fiscal, twice this measure in the earlier three years and double-digits during FY09 and FY10. A poor monsoon and lacking hydro generation notwithstanding, intra-year power deficit eased from 4.2 per cent over Q1 to 4 per cent in H1, 3.9 per cent after third quarter and 3.8 per cent by the end of the fourth quarter. Peak demand/peak met deficit worked out to 4.7 per cent. Ex-bus power available reflects the total electricity sent out/delivered from generating stations, which would be less than total power generation by broadly auxiliary power consumption and transformation losses within the generating stations.
The improvement in power deficit during FY15 was confined largely to southern region where the shortage declined from 6.8 per cent to 4.3 per cent. The shortage in Karnataka dropped from 9.5 per cent to 4.3 per cent, that in Andhra Pradesh (inclusive of newly-formed Telengana) eased from 6.9 per cent to 5.4 per cent and the same in Tamil Nadu from 5.9 per cent to 3.1 per cent. The shortage in western region was the lowest at 0.8 per cent (1 per cent): all the states in the region had only marginal deficit. The power shortage in the northern region was the highest at 6.3 per cent (6 per cent), which was due to 15.6 per cent deficit in Uttar Pradesh and 19.1 per cent in Jammu & Kashmir. All the other states faced milder deficit ranging from nil to 3 per cent.
Maharashtra, the top power consumer state in the country, experienced 1.3 per cent (2.1 per cent) power deficit during FY15. Uttar Pradesh, the second ranker in power requirement faced15.6 per cent shortage. Andhra Pradesh, the second ranked state faced 6.9 per cent (17.6 per cent) shortage. Uttar Pradesh, the third largest state faced 14 per cent (16.6 per cent) shortage. Gujarat was self-sufficient in meeting its power needs for the third straight year. Karnataka suffered 0.6 per cent, against 9.5 per cent in the preceding year and 13.9 per cent shortfall; the decline was more due to subdued growth in power requirement. Tamil Nadu faced 3.1 per cent deficit, down from 5.9 per cent in the preceding year due to faster growth in power availability, relative to power requirement. Rajasthan, a new entrant to top states in terms of power requirement due to separation of Telengana from of Andhra Pradesh, faced marginal deficit for the second year. The top six states which account for 52 per cent of the power consumption in the country were responsible for 63 per cent of the power deficit in the nation.
The government focus is now more on transmission and distribution sector, according to reports. Following a number of steps taken for expediting forest clearances and intensive monitoring of critical transmission lines, 22,101 ckm of transmission lines have been commissioned during FY15 against 16,748 ckm commissioned during the preceding year, thus growing by 31.96 per cent, which is the highest rate ever achieved in a single year. This is also 106 per cent of the annual target of 20,882 ckm fixed for the year. Similarly, the overall increase in the transformation capacity has been 65,554 MVA during FY15 which is record achievement in a single year and constitutes 137 per cent of the target of 47,871MVA fixed for the year.
The major inter-state transmission system (ISTS) commissioned in FY15 includes the second circuit of the 765kV Raichur-Sholapur 765kV line which strengthened the synchronous interconnection of Southern Region (SR) with rest of the country thereby facilitating reliable operation of single frequency National Grid. The commissioning of the second 765kV line from Raipur to Wardha to Aurangabad provides an important corridor for transfer of power from Chhattisgarh area towards load centres in Maharashtra and further to Southern Region. Commissioning of Silchar – Imphal and Silchar – Bongaigaon line during the year will result in significant improvement in power supply to northeast India.