Fresh power capacity addition has fallen short of target by nearly a third in the first half (April-September) of the current fiscal, owing to delays in the supply of critical components in thermal projects, delayed forest clearances and non-availability of fuel for a nuclear power project. According to the latest data provided by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the apex power sector planning body, only 4,433 Mw was achieved in the six months ended September 2009. This was nearly two-thirds of the targeted addition of about 6,462 Mw.
Industry experts believe capacity addition should be around 20 per cent in excess of the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in order for this growth to be sustainable. Last year (2008-09), when India’s economic growth had slipped to 6.7 per cent from 9 per cent in the previous year, the power capacity grew only by 3.4 per cent. The country’s GDP growth for the current financial year is expected to be over 6 per cent. In the first quarter ending June 30, GDP grew 6.1 per cent.
According to the data, unlike last year when a 100 per cent achievement of the hydro power capacity addition target had covered up the poor performance by thermal and nuclear targets, this time, all the three sub-sectors of hydro, thermal and nuclear have seen huge slippages.
|Capacity addition target achieved in the first half of the current fiscal (April-September 2009)|
However, the achievement of the targeted power capacity addition in the first half of the current financial year was the highest in the past five years. The percentage achievement of the target was the best since the beginning of the current Plan period.
The Planning Commission maintains it would be too early to be unduly concerned about the poor performance, though we need to step up efforts to increase equipment manufacturing capacity and secure fuel supply. “There is no doubt that capacity growth is more important today when the economy is grappling with the slowdown. But in the power sector, we should not look at things in a short term perspective. The capacity that is coming up now was planned in the last years of the Tenth Plan (2002-07) and at that time this 80,000 Mw (target for the current Plan) was nowhere in picture. Thus, the pace is bound to be slow for some time,” said B K Chaturvedi, member, Planning Commission.
He pointed out that the actual generation in the current year has grown by 6-7 per cent, though coal availability has not been good in the first half. But private sector participation, too, has grown from 10 per cent in Tenth Plan to 34 per cent now. “Their capacity is now coming up in the second and third years of the current Plan. But, BHEL should increase its capacity and we should import more coal,” he added.
Of the total thermal power capacity addition of 6,103 Mw targeted in the period, 4,394 Mw, or around 71 per cent, have been added. “Delays in the supply of Balance of Plant (BoP) equipment has been the major reason for delays in commissioning of thermal units,” said a senior CEA official.
BoP refers to components that are not part of the main plan equipment like boilers, turbines and generators but these are critical for safety and operational issues. Of the total 509 BoP equipment required for power projects under construction for the current Plan period (2007-12), orders for about 20 per cent are yet to be placed, according to CEA’s data.
The official also informed that for hydro projects, the lag in commissioning of plants has been due to difficulties in obtaining forest clearances. The target of adding 139 Mw of hydro generation capacity in the first half of the current financial year was missed by over 70 per cent. The capacity which could not be commissioned due to delay in obtaining clearances includes the 100-Mw Kuttiyadi extension project in Kerala. The plant was to be commissioned in 2006-07 according to the original schedule. However, it is now expected to be commissioned in December this year.
The target for the nuclear capacity addition of 220 Mw, which was to be added by the commissioning of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd’s (NPCIL) Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant (RAPP) unit 5, has been missed completely. “The testing of the plant is not yet over. But it should be commissioned within this calendar year. The fuel for the plant is available. Cold commissioning has already been done,” said a senior official from NPCIL. The state-owned power firm alone develops nuclear power plants in India. The plant which was supposed to be commissioned in August 2007 is now expected to go on-stream by December this year, with over 98 per cent of the work already completed.
Source - Business standard