India Will focus on setting up more coal-based power projects in 2024. It will also continue to increase renewable generation capacity with the aim of providing 24-hour power supply for all. So that economic expansion and energy security can be ensured in this era of increasing geopolitical uncertainties. The Union Power Ministry plans to add 91 GW of coal-based thermal power generation capacity with an investment of Rs 7.28 lakh crore in the next few years. Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy R.K. Singh said, ’24-hour power supply is the consumer’s right. Similarly, energy security is of paramount importance for us. You saw what happened in Europe because of the Russia-Ukraine war.
For how many hours is electricity available now?
He said that currently the average power supply across India is 23.50 hours in urban areas and 22 hours in rural areas. Singh said coal-based thermal power capacity will protect the country from any geopolitical disruption. It will also ensure energy security for the country at a time when our economy is expanding rapidly. Coal-based capacity addition is also important given the rising power demand in the country, as the peak power demand in September 2023 was at an all-time high of 243.27 GW.
Power generation capacity of 426 GW
India has installed power generation capacity of about 426 GW, which includes more than 213 GW of coal and lignite-based projects. Earlier this month, President Draupadi Murmu had said that dependence on fossil fuels was definitely reducing. But fossil fuel based energy is also necessary for the country. The President had said in an event, ‘India has always worked as a responsible country in the field of clean energy. India is promoting clean coal technologies, so that the process of coal extraction and utilization can become more efficient and environment friendly. According to the 20th Electric Power Survey (EPS) published in November 2022, the peak power demand in the country will reach 366.39 GW in 2031-32, 465.53 GW in 2036-37 and 574.68 GW in 2041-42.
Renewable energy storage expensive
Singh asked why renewable energy alone cannot be sufficient for 24-hour power supply. Singh said solar energy is available during the day and the wind blows at different times. Similarly, renewable energy can provide round-the-clock power only with energy storage, which is expensive at present, he said. Singh said the ministry has planned 91 GW of new coal-based thermal power generation capacity. Out of this, work is going on on 27 GW. About 31 GW of coal-based thermal capacity is in the final stages of implementation.
Additional thermal power capacity also required
Anil Sardana, managing director of Adani Power and chairman of the National Committee on Power of industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said renewable sources will continue to play a central role in the energy mix. But additional thermal power capacity will be required to meet the higher base load demand growth. He said that according to the Central Electricity Authority, the maximum power demand is estimated to increase to more than 256 GW in 2024. He said that the power sector, especially in India, is facing complex challenges. Because it stands at the crossroads of multi-decade growth and transformation towards becoming a developed nation. A Tata Power Delhi Distribution spokesperson said it is possible that customers may have the option to choose their electricity provider in the future. However, it is not yet decided whether this will happen in the near future or not. On integrating electricity markets across states, Rajib K. Mishra, Chairman and Managing Director, PTC India, said that significant progress in this direction can be seen in 2024 with the implementation of the proposed ‘Market Coupling Mechanism’.
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