Govt can double power output without raising tariffs, says Goyal

New Delhi: Eyeing a quick-fix to blackouts, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal today said the government is working on innovative methods that can help more than double electricity generation to 2 trillion units without raising tariffs.

He said rationalising fuel linkages and sorting out transmission and distribution issues can solve problems in supplying electricity. India faced a peak power shortfall of 6,103 megawatts, or 4.5 per cent of the requirement of 1,35,918 MW, last fiscal.

  Govt can double power output without raising tariffs, says Goyal

Image: Piyush Goyal's website

In an interview to PTI, Goyal said the demand for power is legitimate and good quality electricity at reasonable prices should be made available to the end consumer.

"We did about 900 billion units last year and we can do at least 2 trillion units of power generation with existing assets commissioned or soon to be commissioned," he said.

The doubling of power generation can be done without burdening the consumer with a higher electricity tariff. Goyal, who took charge of the ministries a month ago, said, "Ya, I am quite sure," when asked whether this is possible without hiking electricity charges.

Supply of coal, the fuel most used to generate electricity, needs to be rationalised by allocating it to power plants from the nearest source, he said. For example, a power plant in Gujarat that ferries coal by rail from Chattisgarh can swap its allocation with NTPC, which depends on imported coal that is shipped through a port in Gujarat.

Similarly, to solve coal quality issues facing power plants, crushing units can be set up at every mine that will ensure no boulders go to electricity stations, he said, adding that orders have been issued for installing crushers at every mine by the end of this year.

"Our focus is sorting out fuel supply issues, focusing investments in transmission and distribution, power supply to agriculture sector," the minister said. "The bottlenecks can be clearly identified -- if you ask me, the biggest one is to think a little out of the box." Among the obstacles are power theft and dissipation that lead to USD 17 billion in lost revenue each year. The nation needs to quadruple its generation capacity by 2030, when per capita power consumption is estimated to increase to 2,100 kilowatt-hours, or units, from 684 kilowatt-hours in 2011.

Goyal was of the view that the huge demand for electricity in the country is also a potential opportunity for the power sector.

The Ministry of Power has set a target of generating over 1,000 billion units of electricity during the current financial year, an increase of about 5 per cent from the previous financial year. Giving an example for improving the quality of coal being supplied to power projects, Goyal said, "We don't have crushed coal in India but all you have to do is put up crushers outside every coal mine and you resolve quality issues."

Goyal also said that ironing out hurdles including fuel supply in the sector are his topmost priority. "(I) have ordered that it should be done by December 31," he said, adding that small measures like these can go a long way in augmenting coal supply.

Megawatt (MW) refers to generation capacity, while units indicate the amount of power or energy produced. One MW can produce 1,000 units of electricity in one hour.

PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2014 10:08:01 IST