After missing its targets by wide margins in the previous two five-year plans, India is all set to comfortably meet or exceed all its power sector targets for the 12th five-year plan that ends this month.
Five-year plans, borrowed from the Soviet Union, are a legacy of Nehruvian policy of setting development targets every five years.
Though state enterprises were supposed to play a pivotal role in the execution of such plans, it is the private sector players who have helped change the dismal track-record of the power sector in achieving the targets.
With several ‘mega’ and ‘ultra mega’ power projects from private companies such as Reliance Infrastructure coming online in the past few years, the generation target for 12th plan period — which ends this month — has been easily achieved.
For the power sector as a whole, there were three specific targets — in generation, transmission and transformer capacity, and all three are being met. However, there are sub-segments — such as large hydro and renewables — that missed.
The target for total power generation capacity addition was 88,537 megawatt. With one month left to go, a total of 94,689 megawatt of fresh power capacity has already been added thanks to enthusiastic participation from private players.
Against a target of 43,500 MW, private players have added over 60,000 MW, while the central government undertaking NTPC is chasing a target of 11,920 MW for what looks set to be a close finish.
The target for transmission was to add 1.07 lakh circuit km, and 1.06 ckm has already been added as of January.
Similarly, the target for total transformer capacity addition was 2.85 lakh mega volt amps. The industry has already added 3.04 lakh with two months to spare.
In comparison, India added generation capacity of 50,000 MW (50 GW) — well short of the targeted 62 GW.
In the preceding, 10th five-year plan, the target was 41,110 MW and the achievement was a mere 20,950 MW.
However, nearly all of the incremental generation capacity has come in the thermal category, with large hydro-power missing its target spectacularly.
A total of 10,897 MW of incremental hydro-power capacity was supposed to be added, but the achievement so far is only around 4,000 MW.
Another big miss is on renewables — which doesn’t include big hydro for this purpose.
These were supposed to account for an incremental generation capacity of 30,000 MW, but actual achievement was only 22,736 MW with two months to spare.
The target for total installed solar energy is 12,700 MW by the end of this month. But as of last year, the country was adding only 1,000 MW per quarter and had an installed base of only 9,000 MW at the end of December.
Solar is likely to pick up the slack in coming months as several mega projects have been approved in recent months and will come online in the coming quarters.
The thirteenth plan period is unlikely to see the kind of additions in conventional generation capacity witnessed in the 12th period due to the rise of renewables.
Against a total coal-based capacity of 250 GW built over several decades, India is estimated to have a potential of 750 GW in solar and over 300 GW in wind power. However, at present, only 10 GW of solar and 29 GW of wind power capacity has been realized.
Meanwhile, another 70 GW of coal and 13 GW of large-hydro projects are at various stages of development.
It is believed that India will use some of the planned new coal-based capacity to retire its less inefficient, legacy coal plants rather than to increase its total output.
The 13th plan period is also likely to see a higher participation from the private sector in bringing more hydro power capacity online. Several large and medium-sized hydro power projects, such as the Ratle 850 MW project in Jammu & Kashmir and the Teesta 500 MW project in Sikkim are under construction in the private sector (see chart).