Problems of Power Sector in India:

The electricity requirements of power sector in India have grown tremendously and the demand has been running ahead of supply. Electricity generation and transmission processes in India are very inefficient in comparison with those of some developed countries. As per one estimate, in India generating capacity is utilized on an average for 3600 hours out of 8760 hours in a year, while in Japan it is used for 5100 hours. If the utilization factor could be increased, it should be possible to avoid power cuts.

The transmission loss in 1997-98 on a national basis was 23.68% consisting of both technical losses in transmis­sion lines and transformers, and also non-technical losses caused by energy thefts and meters not being read correctly. It should be possible to achieve considerable saving by reducing this loss to 15% by the end of the Tenth Five Year Plan by using well known ways and means and by adopting sound commercial practices. Further, every attempt should be made to improve system load factors by flattening the load curve by giving proper tariff incentives and taking other administrative measures. As per the Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) sixteenth annual power survey of India report, the all India load factor up to 1998-99 was of the order of 78%. In future it is likely to be 71%. By 2001, 5.07 lakh of villages (86%) have been electrified and 117 lakh of pumpsets have been energized.

Assuming a very modest average annual energy growth of 5%, India’s electrical energy requirement in the year 2010 will be enormously high. A difficult and challenging task of planning, engineering and constructing new power stations is imminent to meet this situation. The government has built several super thermal stations such as at Singrauli (Uttar Pradesh), Farakka (West Bengal), Korba (Madhya Pradesh), Ramagundam (Andhra Pradesh) and Neyveli (Tamil Nadu), Chandrapur (Maharashtra) all in coal mining areas, each with a capacity in the range of 2000 MW. Many more super thermal plants would be built in future. Intensive work must be conducted on boiler furnaces to burn coal with high ash content. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is in charge of these large scale generation projects.

Hydro power will continue to remain cheaper than the other types for the next decade. As mentioned earlier, power sector in India has so far developed only around 18% of its estimated total hydro potential of 89000 MW. The utilization of this perennial source of energy would involve massive investments in dams, channels and generation-transmission system. The Central Electricity Author­ity, the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Power are coordinating to work out a perspective plan to develop all hydroelectric sources by the end of this century to be executed by the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC). NTPC has also started recently development of hydro plants.

Nuclear energy assumes special significance in energy planning in India. Because of limited coal reserves and its poor quality, India has no choice but to keep going on with its nuclear energy plans. According to the Atomic Energy Commission, India’s nuclear power generation will increase to 10000 MW by year 2010. Everything seems to be set for a take off in nuclear power production using the country’s thorium reserves in breeder reactors.

In India, concerted efforts to develop solar energy and other non-conventional sources of energy need to be emphasized, so that the growing demand can be met and depleting fossil fuel resources may be conserved. To meet the energy requirement, it is expected that the coal production will have to be increased to more than 450 million tons in 2004–2005 as compared to 180 million tonnes in 1988.

A number of 400 kV lines are operating successfully since 1980s as mentioned already. This was the first step in working towards a national grid. There is a need in future to go in for even higher voltages (800 kV). It is expected that by the year 2011-12, 5400 ckt km of 800 kV lines and 48000 ckt km of 400 kV lines would be in operation. Also lines may be series and shunt compensated to carry huge blocks of power with greater stability. There is a need for constructing HVDC (High Voltage DC) links in the country since DC lines can carry considerably more power at the same voltage and require fewer conductors. A 400 kV Singrauli—Vindhyachal of 500 MW capacity first HVDC back-to-back scheme has been commissioned by NPTC (National Power Transmission Corporation) followed by first point-to-point bulk EHVDC transmission of 1500 MW at ± 500 kV over a distance of 915 km from Rihand to Delhi. Power Grid recently commissioned on 14 Feb. 2003 a 2000 MW Talcher-Kolar ± 500 kV HVDC bipole transmission system thus enabling excess power from East to flow to South. 7000 ckt km of ± 500 kV HVDC line is expected by 2011-12.

At the time of writing, the whole energy scenario is so clouded with uncertainty that it would be unwise to try any quantitative predictions for the future. However, certain trends that will decide the future developments of electric power sector in India are clear.

Generally, unit size will go further up from 500 MW. A higher voltage (765/ 1200 kV) will come eventually at the transmission level. There is little chance for six-phase transmission becoming popular though there are few such lines in USA. More of HVDC lines will come in operation. As population has already touched the 1000 million mark in India, we may see a trend to go toward underground transmission in urban areas.

Public sector investment in power has increased from Rs 2600 million in the First Plan to Rs 242330 million in the Seventh Plan (1985 —90). Shortfall in the Sixth Plan has been around 26%. There have been serious power shortages and generation and availability of power in turn have lagged too much from the industrial, agricultural and domestic requirements. Huge amounts of funds (of the order of Rs. 1893200 million) will be required if we have to achieve power surplus position by the time we reach the terminal year to the XI Plan (2011-2012). Otherwise achieving a target of 975 billion units of electric power will remain an utopian dream.

Power grid is planning creation of transmission highways to conserve Right-of-way. Strong national grid is being developed in phased manner. In 2001 the interregional capacity was 5000 MW. It is expected that by 2011-12, it will be 30000 MW. Huge investment is planned to the tune of US $ 20 billion in the coming decade. Present figures for HVDC is 3136 ckt km, 800 kV is 950 ckt km, 400 kV is 45500 ckt km and 220/132 kV is 215000 ckt km. State-of-the art technologies which are, being used in India currently are HVDC bipole, HVDC back-to-back, SVC (Static Var Compensator), FACTs (Flexible AC Transmissions) devices etc. Improved 0 and M (Operation and Maintenance) technologies which are being used today are hotline maintenance, emergency restoration system, thermovision scanning, etc.

Because of power shortages, many of the industries, particularly power-intensive ones, have installed their own captive power plants.* Currently 20% of electricity generated in India comes from the captive power plants and this is bound to go up in the future. Consortium of industrial consumers should be encouraged to put up coal-based captive plants. Import should be liberalized to support this activity.

With the ever increasing complexity and growth of power networks and their economic and integrated operation, several central/regional automatic load despatch centres with real time computer control have been established. In future it is envisaged that using SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) etc. will be possible to achieve nationwide on-line monitoring and real time control of system. It may also be pointed out that this book will also help in training and preparing the large number of professionals trained in computer aided power system operation and control that would be required to handle vast expansion planned in power system in the coming decades.