India has close to 2,90,000 MW of electricity generation capacity. However, many power plants run well below their capacity, some even at half their potential.
The distribution companies (Discoms) are under pressure from some state governments not to increase power tariffs since the prevailing rates are well below their costs. The power deficit is further compounded by distributors who prefer to cut supplies to consumers rather than buying available power, thus often going back on their purchase agreements with producers.
Power producers, for whom shutting a plant is not an option because it would take days to get it running again, tend to sell electricity below cost to avoid losing customers. Running a thermal power plant at low capacity increases the power generation cost per unit, taking its toll on the financial health of power producers.
Shortage of power has often been cited by investors as a deterrent in setting up production plants in India. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is trying to correct this by seeking to increase the share of manufacturing to 25% of gross domestic product (GDP) from 15%.
India’s power deficit dropped to an all-time low of less than 1%, thanks to record electricity generation capacity added over the last few years, adequate coal stocks and transmission facilities, coupled with meager growth in electricity demand.
Power deficit is calculated by states as the difference between electricity requirement raised by distribution companies and electricity supplied, and cannot be directly correlated to hours of power outages and the latent demand in unelectrified villages.
However, with the industrial scenario looking up in the past one year or so with economic reforms like GST and key initiatives for investments in railways, defence, infrastructure, shipbuilding ,oil & gas, etc., the growth in demand for electricity is expected to rise rapidly which could pose a challenge for demand-supply gap in the coming years.
The electricity industry is a basic and significant industry of the national economy, which is closely related to economic development. On the one hand, electricity is a driving force of economic development. The shortage of power supply will seriously affect the healthy development of the economy and can cause large economic losses. On the other hand, the level and speed of macroeconomic development play a decisive role in determining electricity demand.
Fuel supply risks and precarious financial health of electricity distribution companies continue to pose challenges for the power sector, whose slow progress could impact the country’s economic growth, according to a report by a major researcher a few months back.
The investments worth several thousand crores in various power projects, especially those in thermal power could turn in to non-performing assets unless fuel issues are resolved.
For every 1 per cent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the power generation need to increase by 1 per cent. Otherwise, there would be inadequate electricity supply that can impact not just the power sector but also other industries.
Ador Welding is a complete welding solutions provider and manufacturer catering to the entire gamut of industries spread across the length and breadth of our country and abroad. We would be affected as inadequate power supplies would increase our costs, reduce output and in turn hit profitability. Since we cater to the entire Engineering industry and the Manufacturing sector viz. Railways, Power, Infrastructure, Oil & Gas, Heavy Engineering and so on, a slowdown in any of these sectors is bound to affect us.
For the first time in the country, the renewable energy sector has added more capacity than the conventional power thermal, gas and nuclear in 2017-18.
The renewable energy sector which includes solar, wind and bio-fuel, has added 11,788 MW of capacity to the grid in FY18.
Though the renewable energy capacity addition fell short of its target (14,510 MW) for the fiscal, it exceeded the capacity added by conventional segment which stood at 9,505 MW, according to the data provided by Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
This development is more a reflection of the challenges faced by the conventional energy sector which registered a steep decline of 33 per cent when compared to 14,209 MW capacity addition in FY17 rather than any steep increase in renewable addition which actually grew by just 4 per cent.
Faced with multiple challenges, thermal sector’s capacity addition came down to 8,710 MW in FY18 from 11,550 MW in the previous year.
While falling tariffs of renewable power is making coal-fired power units less attractive, the thermal power sector has also been plagued by overcapacity, weak demand and lack of visibility for tying up long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).
India is one of the countries with the largest production of energy from renewable sources. In the electricity sector, renewable energy (excluding large hydro) accounted for 20% of the total installed power capacity (69.02 GW) as of 31 March 2018. Large hydro installed capacity was 45.29 GW as of 31 March 2018, contributing to 13% of the total power capacity.
Thus, renewable energy including large scale hydro-power currently adds up to more than 33% of the total installed power capacity in India.
India is running one of the largest and most ambitious renewable capacity expansion programs in the world. Newer renewable electricity sources are projected to grow massively by nearer term 2022 targets, including a more than doubling of India’s large wind power capacity and an almost 15 fold increase in solar power from April 2016 levels.
Such ambitious targets would place India among the world leaders in renewable energy use and place India at the centre of its “Sunshine Countries” International Solar Alliance project promoting the growth and development of solar power internationally to over 120 countries. India set a target of achieving 40% of its total electricity generation from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, as stated in its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions statement in the Paris Agreement.
A blueprint draft published by Central Electricity Authority projects that 57% of the total electricity capacity will be from renewable sources by 2027. In the 2027 forecasts, India aims to have a renewable energy installed capacity of 275 GW, in addition to 72 GW of hydro-energy, 15 GW of nuclear energy and nearly 100 GW from “other zero emission” sources.
Some basics that need to be implemented by one and all:
Solar plants have different designs for different purposes. Therefore, not all rooftop solar plants generate power during a power failure.
It is the inverter that determines whether the plant continues to function or not during a power cut, we need to only understand the different kinds of inverters to ensure we have a rooftop solar plant that generates electricity even during power cuts. Our study into the types of inverters available present the following options:
(a ) Grid-tied –These inverters are primarily designed to supply the generated power to the grid and also power the load while grid power is available. This inverter will NOT generate power during a power failure because it uses only grid power as a reference voltage and cannot function in the absence of grid power
(b) Off-grid – These inverters do not work with grid power and are designed to work only with a battery backup or diesel generator in off-grid applications. They are suitable for applications where grid power is not available but are not the right choice if you need your solar plant to work in conjunction with grid supply.
(c) Grid-interactive –These inverters work both with the grid supply and with either a battery backup or diesel generator to support the load even during a power failure. These hybrid inverters ensure that there is an option of getting the power from batteries or diesel genset when the solar panel is not producing power. Essentially, it combines the functions of off-grid and grid-tied inverters. These are especially resourceful in areas that are prone to blackouts or frequent power outages and there is a need for uninterrupted power supply.
[As told to P.K. Balasubbramaniian]
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