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Mission India: Electricity for All

The world generated 3871.952 million kilo watt of electricity in 2005. USA produces a quarter of the global electricity generation. India ranks fifth with a total 137.578 million kw generation. It is way behind China – 442.380 million kw generation, the second highest in the world. In per capita terms availability India is abysmally low just about four per cent that of in the USA
Electricity generation top eight countries - 2005
CountryElectricity generation (2005) Mil KW
USA956.673
China442.380
Japan247.946
Russia 217.158
India137.578
Germany120.376
Canada120.282
France112.719
To meet the huge gap between demand and supply of electricity and also to meet the government’s objective of providing power to all by 2012 New Delhi is courting private investment in the sector. In February 2008, the country suffered a shortage of 18381 mw or 17.1 per cent of electricity demand could not be met. Currently the private sector generates 19275.09 MW or 13.5 per cent of the total power generated. Out of the total 141079.84 mw of power produced coal fired plants provide 53.3 per cent. Nuclear, a major source in some other countries provided just 2.9 per cent (4120MW) even less than what came from the renewable energy sources – 10855.24 mw or 7.7 per cent of electricity generated.

India, with over a billion people, presently produces 660 billion units of electricity which results in per capita availability of about 631 units. This is less than one fourth of the world average. About 500 million Indians, a population almost equal to the combined population of USA and EU, have no access to electricity. New Delhi declared that in the next four years – by 2012 – this large section of people will have access to electricity. In fact, the plan is to increase the per capita availability of electricity to 1000 units by year 2012.

The target in the 11 th Five Year Plan is to generate an additional 78578.4 mw of electricity. Out of this the private sector is expected to contribute 16363 mw. The central Government has plans to add 3380 mw through the nuclear route. The target is to generate 53930 mw from coal. Given the coal shortage within the country and the rush for coal everywhere in the world the target may not prove easy to achieve. Curiously the Indian government did not plan for a big push to nuclear power unlike in China. China intends to double its share of nuclear power from the current 2 to 4 per cent in the next few years. In contrast India is busy debating the Civilian Nuclear Treaty which would have ensured immediate supply of nuclear fuel and offered a solution to the power sector scarcity.

Coal India Limited, the state owned coal major, has estimated that it will have to spend around Rs 1,800 crore for importing over 200 million tonnes (mt) of coal valued at current international prices to meet domestic demand during the 11th Five-Year Plan period. Import will be necessary to meet the number of letters of assurance (LoA) issued by the coal ministry recently. The LoAs have been issued to different independent power producers, captive power producers, cement and sponge iron units.

CIL’s estimates, worked out on the basis of applications received by way of LoAs issued to different coal consumers, reveal that the total domestic coal demand during the 11th plan period would be around 773 mt as against the projected production of 520 mt.

CIL has received 400-odd applications for the 11th plan period, taking the total coal demand figure to around 773 mt. This leaves a shortfall of over 200 mt to meet domestic requirement.

The imports would come mostly from Indonesia, South Africa and Australia. Internationally, prices of non-cocking coal are ruling at $90 a tonne. The average domestic price of the product is Rs 800 a tonne.

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