New Delhi: The government will adopt new technologies to make coal-based power generation cleaner and design new financing schemes with private companies to fund research on green energy technologies to address a major surge in power demand expected over the next decade, power minister Piyush Goyal said.
Addressing top industry executives at a conference on the future of electricity organized by Mint and General Electric Co. on Tuesday, Goyal said the government will also take policy measures to promote wind and hydropower generation capacity as the solar power industry is already on a high-growth path.
Higher personal incomes and the emphasis given to domestic manufacturing activities will significantly increase power consumption despite the improvements in energy efficiency. This surge in demand, which comes at a time when electricity consumption growth is either flat or declining in the developed world, offers a huge potential for the industry, Goyal said.
Steve Bolze, president and chief executive officer of GE Power, said technology is key to India achieving its targets in the electricity sector.
India has set a target of setting up 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy generation capacity by 2022, out of which 100 GW is to come from solar. Goyal said that solar power capacity, presently at 6.7 GW, will touch 20 GW by next year. The country currently has a capacity to produce 302 GW of power, but the demand is estimated to be about 150 GW, mainly due to the stress in the power distribution business.
The government in November introduced a bailout scheme for power distributors called Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana, which is expected to nurse state-run power utilities back to health, enable them to buy more power from producers and invest more in efficiency improvement.
“The fresh demand (for power) will come from the 230 million people who will get electricity for the first time, the elimination of diesel generation sets because of access to power and from increased economic activity coming from the Make in India campaign,” Goyal said, adding that power consumption is expected to grow at 10% annually over the next 10-15 years.
Since the solar power sector is on track, the government will now focus on encouraging new hydropower and wind power capacity, Goyal said. The government is also ready to contract at least 70 to 80 million metric standard cubic metres (mmscmd) of natural gas from global suppliers if they are ready to supply long-term at affordable rates, which will enable India to operate its idle gas-based power capacity, the minister said. The Modi administration will also set up a pool of capital to invest in clean energy technology with contribution from public sector companies, in which private enterprises could also take part, he said.
Sumant Sinha, chairman and CEO of power producer ReNew Power Ventures Pvt. Ltd, said that offshore solar power plants could address the problem of land availability. Coal secretary Anil Swarup said “minimalistic” regulation will go a long way in aiding the power sector growth.