Our Bureau

Mumbai, April 16

THE country lost 18 billion units of power generation (roughly 2,000 megawatts) last year because of gas and coal shortages, said a Union Power Ministry official.

The Indian power sector would have seen a growth of 8.5 per cent instead of the present 6.2 per cent growth, if not for fuel shortages," Mr R.V. Shahi, Union Power Secretary, told reporters here.

He said that on an average, coal-fired plants in India were running at 68 per cent capacity (known as plant load factor), while gas-fired plants were running at 95 per cent capacity.

"If we enhance our coal-fired generation by one per cent, coal shortages will shoot up by 5 million tonnes (mt)," said Mr Arvind Jadhav, Joint Secretary, Power. Coal-fired plants across the country are facing severe coal shortages, as coal supplies have not kept up with the increasing efficiencies of power plants. Generation companies in India are currently facing a shortage of about 15-20 mt.

Also, with less-than-adequate natural gas supplies, gas-fired plants in the country are operating at 58 per cent capacity, Mr Jadhav said. The Union Minister, Mr P. M. Sayeed, however, asserted that in spite of shortages, India would achieve its Tenth Plan target to add another 41,110-MW generation capacity.

About 37,000-MW capacity is either commissioned or under execution or awarded for the Tenth Plan period and the shortfall would be bridged through excess capacities with the captive generation projects, he said.

On the unbundling of State Electricity Boards (SEBs), the Minister said the Government would seek the opinion of the Law Ministry over the demand of some States for the extension of the June 10, 2005 deadline to restructure the SEBs.

Mr Sayeed declined to comment on the future of the beleaguered 2,184-MW Dabhol power project, which has been mothballed for the last four years. He said any comment about the ongoing discussions of the Government and Indian lenders with Dabhol's foreign lenders and promoters, GE and Bechtel, will only "jeopardise" the Government's position.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 17, 2005)
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