It was while laying the foundation stone of the first phase (1,400 MW) of the 2,800 MW Haryana Nuclear Power Project (Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojna) at Haryana’s Fatehabad district (250 km from Chandigarh) in the second week of January this year, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said, “Our government has laid a lot of emphasis on the power sector. The power generation capacity enhancement in the last 10 years is higher than what was achieved in the previous 55 years since independence.”
His statement has come at a time when resurgence of government interest in nuclear power may be called modest at its best. The sector saw a mere 1.8% growth in 2012-13 and is expected to grow only by 5.9% in 2013-14 to 34.8 billion units (BU), according to a September 2013 report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). As on 31st March, 2013, the country’s total installed capacity of electricity generating stations was 2,23,343.60 MW. While the government has expressed some keenness by way of proactive measures such as renovation and modernization (R&M) of old power plants, and improved coal and gas availability for the power sector, the latter registered a growth rate of a meagre 3.96% in 2012-13, with a peak deficit of 9%.
Gas-based generation declined by 28.5% in 2012-13. Lower availability of natural gas, especially due to declining output from the Krishna-Godavari basin, impacted gas-based power generation. The downward trend in gas-based generation is likely to continue in 2013-14 and according to CMIE, decline by around 10% in 2013-14. The government has now planned a capacity addition of 88,537 MW for the 12th Five Year Plan period. Some specific interventions that it intends to take in include monitoring of capacity addition of on-going generation projects; regular review meetings between the Ministry of Power (MoP) with the CEA, equipment manufacturers, state utilities/CPSUs/project developers, etc. to identify the bottlenecks in capacity addition and resolve these issues; the formation of several joint ventures for manufacture of main plant equipment indigenously; and a thrust on power generation from renewable sources.
To this end, based on MNRE figures, grid interactive renewable capacity addition likely during the 12th Plan is about 30,000 MW. Of course, for instance, since 2010, the country has hiked installed solar power capacity from a meagre 17.8 megawatts to more than 2,000 MW, probably aligned with the Prime Minister’s vision of making “the sun occupy centre-stage” in the country’s energy mix. The government has also set a target of generating 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power and 2,000 MW of off-grid generation, such as rooftop panels by 2022. In spite of this solar centre staging though, Indian solar equipment companies have not been profiting. The landscape has been characterized by massive equipment imports, mainly from China, but also from the United States and Taiwan. Their Indian counterparts say that unless imports are curbed, the country will never develop an indigenous solar industry. The commerce ministry has, in fact, launched a preliminary inquiry into allegations of dumping, around the same time as corporate bankruptcy, loan restructuring and pleas to the government for support against international competition from equipment manufacturers.