Power is one of the most critical components of infrastructure, affecting economic growth and wellbeing of nations. The existence and development of adequate power infrastructure is essential for sustained growth of the Indian economy.
Installed electricity generation capacity in India has reached to 248.5 GW as on May 2014 with a contribution of 69% from thermal, 2% from nuclear and 29% from renewable energy (including hydro) sources. In transmission, the country has adopted Extra High Voltage AC and High Voltage DC technologies to the meet the requirements. Transmission capacity in India is more than 2.9 lakh circuit kilometres for 500kV HVDC, 756kV, 400kV and 220kV. Power Distribution Utilities are improving their efficiencies by reducing losses, investing significantly in capital and O&M works, IT enabled process improvements and by improving customer service orientation.
Eastern region is keeping pace with the development in the sector and has taken several initiatives which contribute towards its growth. Odisha is the first state in India which has introduced and implemented power sector reforms. Bihar has taken key initiatives to operate the public private partnership model in power distribution. West Bengal demonstrates a flawless public governing system in all the three aspects viz. generation, transmission and distribution. Chhattisgarh is leading power generation by enabling effective utilization of its natural resources. Jharkhand is mineral rich and has the tremendous potential for power generation through various sources.
The Indian electricity sector, in recent times, has witnessed a number of challenges – generating stations either running dry due to poor monsoon or facing shut down due to non-availability of fuel; transmission networks falling prey to either natural calamities or adverse grid disturbances due to defaults by the utilities, thereby causing extensive electricity outages; consumers raising their voices, and sometimes resorting to violent means of protest, against rising electricity prices and unbearably lengthy power cuts in the non-priority areas. The pressure on the conventional sources of electricity generation as well as their environmental and socio-economic implications, have compelled policy makers, thought leaders, investors, utilities as well as consumers to look for the expansion of sustainable non-conventional energy sources.
The viability and sustainability of the Indian electricity sector are dependent on the success of the electricity distribution business – whether these are owned by the government or private sector. A number of experiments have been done with the electricity distribution sector in India, across all states, with initiatives from the Central as well as the State governments, regulators, multi-lateral agencies, utilities and investors. However, the Indian electricity sector is saddled with approximately INR 1.5 Lakh Crores of debt.
While there is no dearth of ideas for actions that are necessary to revive the electricity sector in India, there is a need of a commitment by the governments, regulators, the utilities and the consumer groups, to convert these ideas into actionable items and implement the same.
Initiatives like smart grid, IT enablement and process automation, energy efficiency, demand side management, public private partnership, high voltage transmission system, renewable energy generation, system operations, power trading etc. shall play major roles in facilitating development of sustainable power in the coming years.
The CII-PwC report on ‘The Leap towards Sustainable Power in Eastern India’ reviews the prospect and the potential for sustainable power generation in the Eastern India states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. The publication was released against the backdrop of the fifth edition of the Energy Conclave 2014: Facilitating Access to Clean, Reliable and Affordable Power organized by CII on 12 August, 2014 in Kolkata.