India has always faced a shortage of electricity, whether measured in terms of energy generated (MU) or peak demand (MW). This problem has been – and continues to be – a serious obstacle to economic growth. While official statistics claim that the gap between supply and demand has come down in recent years, they do not factor in the unmet and latent demand from a large section of rural India.

In trying to overcome the shortage and achieve adequacy of power at lowest possible cost, the emphasis, in all our planning exercises, has been on addition of base-load thermal plants that operate on coal. At present, coal plants account for 58% of total installed capacity (MW) and about 72% of total generation (MU). Coal will continue to play a dominant role in the future too, as an average addition of 14,000 MW per year has been planned. So, in the foreseeable future, coal plants will account for about 60% of total capacity and over 65% of total generation.

This paper argues for a serious course-correction now, as it is evident that adequacy of baseload capacity alone will not help in meeting the objective of “24 x 7“ power supply or in ensuring reliability.

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  M Rajagopalan

   Market Development Director Asia & Middle East
   Wärtsilä Energy Solutions
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