While analysing the Government of India´s claims of creating several records in the power sector, despite having only completed the first year of their term, we thought that the records have to be set right. And thus it is, that while we must dutifully acknowledge the reported achievements of highest generation and capacity additions, which are obviously backed by figures, one must also reflect on the fact that capacity creation in power generation happens to be a long gestation business, and that the current numbers are fruits of past labour. Let us also give the´devil´ its due.
However, while the entire exercise of claiming credits continues at the forefront, the officialdom is yet to announce that FY2014-15 also saw the power sector achieve the lowest plant load factor (PLF) in over 15 years, with the country´s power capacities operating at a mere 65 per cent capacity utilisation. Luckily enough for the government though, this has gone relatively unnoticed. Why did this happen? While the total power capacity over the past decades witnessed commendable growth with total installed capacity reaching 267 GW, peak power demand is only 141 GW. Surprised at the great mismatch? This is, thanks to a number of reasons like the lack of transmission infrastructure, the government still finalising on the awarding of Rs 26,000 crore worth of transmission projects, and the state governments´ failure to introduce distribution reforms, as many of them continue to dither over the implementation of a distribution franchise (DF) model. As if this was not enough, most states have also failed to implement the ongoing R-APDRP programmes, highlighting the governance confusion in a concurrent subject like power. Essentially, what all this means is that technically, we have the power, but sadly, we cannot reach it to the consumers. If transmission and distribution are the proverbial ´horse´, and generation, the ´cart´, then we have surely managed to put the cart before the horse.
Well, the cart is getting bigger and stronger. Some of the coal sector reforms initiated by the government will have far reaching positive impact. Policies on auction of coal blocks, allocation of e-auction coal for power plants without fuel linkages, exploration of coal bed methane, facilitating technology for efficient underground mining, and finally, the discussion around private commercial mining of coal, will only do well for the power sector in the long term. Gas pooling may just be the solution that the moribund gas-based plants were waiting for. Now, all we need is some succour for the horse.
Meanwhile, as ´Power 20:20´, the 7th Anniversary Issue of Power Today, comes to your hands in its novel avatar, read on to explore the categories with new companies that have been adjudged on various performance parameters like financial, generation, installed capacity, etc. At the end, in the game of POWER, some rose from the ashes while some others choose to wait for the right opportunities. But, those who have made it to the Power 20:20 list, were strategically and fundamentally strong. It clearly suggests that despite the challenging environment, these companies have strategised and grabbed the right opportunities.
Chairman, Editorial Advisory Board
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