Know your Power Sector


The electricity sector in India is predominantly controlled by the Government of India‘s public sector undertakings (PSUs). Major PSUs involved in the generation of electricity include National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI). Besides PSUs, several state-level corporations, such as Maharashtra State Electricity BoardKerala State Electricity Board, (MSEB),in Gujarat (MGVCL, PGVCL, DGVCL, UGVCL four distribution Companies and one controlling body GUVNL, and one generation company GSEC), are also involved in the generation and intra-state distribution of electricity. The PowerGrid Corporation of India is responsible for the inter-state transmission of electricity and the development of national grid.

The Ministry of Power is the apex body responsible for the development of electrical energy in India. This ministry started functioning independently from 2 July 1992; earlier, it was known as the Ministry of Energy. The Union Minister of Power at present is Sushilkumar Shinde of the Congress Party who took charge of the ministry on the 28th of May, 2009.

India is world’s 6th largest energy consumer, accounting for 3.4% of global energy consumption. Due to India’s economic rise, the demand for energy has grown at an average of 3.6% per annum over the past 30 years. In June 2010, the installed power generation capacity of India stood at 162,366 MW while the per capita energy consumption stood at 612 kWH. The country’s annual energy production increased from about 190 billion kWH in 1986 to more than 680 billion kWH in 2006. The Indian government has set an ambitious target to add approximately 78,000 MW of installed generation capacity by 2012. The total demand for electricity in India is expected to cross 950,000 MW by 2030.

About 70% of the electricity consumed in India is generated by thermal power plants, 21% by hydroelectric power plants and 4% by nuclear power plants. More than 50% of India’s commercial energy demand is met through the country’s vast coal reserves. The country has also invested heavily in recent years on renewable sources of energy such as wind energy. As of 2008, India’s installed wind power generation capacity stood at 9,655 MW. Additionally, India has committed massive amount of funds for the construction of various nuclear reactors which would generate at least 30,000 MW. In July 2009, India unveiled a $19 billion plan to produce 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020.

Electricity losses in India during transmission and distribution are extremely high and vary between 30 to 45%. In 2004-05, electricity demand outstripped supply by 7-11%. Due to shortage of electricity, power cuts are common throughout India and this has adversely effected the country’s economic growth. Theft of electricity, common in most parts of urban India, amounts to 1.5% of India’s GDP. Despite an ambitious rural electrification program, some 400 million Indians lose electricity access during blackouts. While 80 percent of Indian villages have at least an electricity line, just 44 percent of rural households have access to electricity. According to a sample of 97,882 households in 2002, electricity was the main source of lighting for 53% of rural households compared to 36% in 1993. Multi Commodity Exchange has sought permission to offer electricity future markets.


Grand Total Installed Capacity is 162,366 MW.

Thermal Power

Current installed capacity of Thermal Power (as of 06/2010) is 1,04,424 MW which is 63.7% of total installed capacity.

  • Current installed base of Coal Based Thermal Power is 86003.38 MW which comes to 53% of total installed base.
  • Current installed base of Gas Based Thermal Power is 17,221 MW which is 10.61% of total installed base.
  • Current installed base of Oil Based Thermal Power is 1,199.75 MW which is 0.74% of total installed base.

The state of Maharashtra is the largest producer of thermal power in the country.

Hydro Power

India was one of the pioneering countries in establishing hydro-electric power plants. The power plant at Darjeeling and Shimsha (Shivanasamudra) was established in 1898 and 1902 respectively and is one of the first in Asia. The installed capacity as of 2008 was approximately 36877.76. The public sector has a predominant share of 97% in this sector.

Nuclear Power

Currently, seventeen nuclear power reactors produce 4,560 MW (2.81% of total installed base).

Main article: Nuclear power in India

Renewable Power

Current installed base of Renewable energy is 16,492.42 MW which is 10.12% of total installed base with the southern state of Tamil Nadu contributing nearly a third of it (5008.26 MW) largely through wind power.


A power transmission cable operated byBEST in Mumbai, India.

Transmission of electricity is defined as bulk transfer of power over a long distance at high voltage, generally of 132kV and above. In India bulk transmission has increased from 3,708ckm in 1950 to more than 165,000ckm today(as stated by Power Grid Corporation of India). The entire country has been divided into five regions for transmission systems, namely, Northern Region, North Eastern Region, Eastern Region, Southern Region and Western Region. The Interconnected transmission system within each region is also called the regional grid.

The transmission system planning in the country, in the past, had traditionally been linked to generation projects as part of the evacuation system. Ability of the power system to safely withstand a contingency without generation rescheduling or load-shedding was the main criteria for planning the transmission system. However, due to various reasons such as spatial development of load in the network, non-commissioning of load center generating units originally planned and deficit in reactive compensation, certain pockets in the power system could not safely operate even under normal conditions. This had necessitated backing down of generation and operating at a lower load generation balance in the past. Transmission planning has therefore moved away from the earlier generation evacuation system planning to integrate system planning.

While the predominant technology for electricity transmission and distribution has been Alternating Current (AC) technology, High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology has also been used for interconnection of all regional grids across the country and for bulk transmission of power over long distances.

Certain provisions in the Electricity Act 2003 such as open access to the transmission and distribution network, recognition of power trading as a distinct activity, the liberal definition of a captive generating plant and provision for supply in rural areas are expected to introduce and encourage competition in the electricity sector. It is expected that all the above measures on the generation, transmission and distribution front would result in formation of a robust electricity grid in the country.


The total installed generating capacity in the country is over 148,700MW and the total number of consumers is over 144 million. Apart from an extensive transmission system network at 500kV HVDC, 400kV, 220kV, 132kV and 66kV which has developed to transmit the power from generating station to the grid substations, a vast network of sub transmission in distribution system has also come up for utilisation of the power by the ultimate consumers.

However, due to lack of adequate investment on transmission and distribution (T&D) works, the T&D losses have been consistently on higher side, and reached to the level of 32.86% in the year 2000-01.The reduction of these losses was essential to bring economic viability to the State Utilities.

As the T&D loss was not able to capture all the losses in the net work, concept of Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) loss was introduced. AT&C loss captures technical as well as commercial losses in the network and is a true indicator of total losses in the system.

High technical losses in the system are primarily due to inadequate investments over the years for system improvement works, which has resulted in unplanned extensions of the distribution lines, overloading of the system elements like transformers and conductors, and lack of adequate reactive power support.

The commercial losses are mainly due to low metering efficiency, theft & pilferages. This may be eliminated by improving metering efficiency, proper energy accounting & auditing and improved billing & collection efficiency. Fixing of accountability of the personnel / feeder managers may help considerably in reduction of AT&C loss.

With the initiative of the Government of India and of the States, the Accelerated Power Development & Reform Programme (APDRP) was launched in 2001, for the strengthening of Sub – Transmission and Distribution network and reduction in AT&C losses.

The main objective of the programme was to bring Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses below 15% in five years in urban and in high-density areas. The programme, along with other initiatives of the Government of India and of the States, has led to reduction in the overall AT&C loss from 38.86% in 2001-02 to 34.54% in 2005-06. The commercial loss of the State Power Utilities reduced significantly during this period from Rs. 29331 Crore to Rs. 19546 Crore. The loss as percentage of turnover was reduced from 33% in 2000-01 to 16.60% in 2005-06.

The APDRP programme is being restructured by the Government of India, so that the desired level of 15% AT&C loss could be achieved by the end of 11th plan.

Power for ALL by 2012

The Government of India has an ambitious mission of POWER FOR ALL BY 2012. This mission would require that the installed generation capacity should be at least 200,000 MW by 2012 from the present level of 144,564.97 MW. Power requirement will double by 2020 to 400,000MW.


  • Sufficient power to achieve GDP growth rate of 8%
  • Reliable power
  • Quality power
  • Optimum power cost
  • Commercial viability of power industry
  • Power for all


  • Power Generation Strategy with focus on low cost generation, optimization of capacity utilization, controlling the input cost, optimisation of fuel mix, Technology upgradation and utilization of Non Conventional energy sources
  • Transmission Strategy with focus on development of National Grid including Interstate connections, Technology upgradation & optimization of transmission cost.
  • Distribution strategy to achieve Distribution Reforms with focus on System upgradation, loss reduction, theft control, consumer service orientation, quality power supply commercialization, Decentralized distributed generation and supply for rural areas.
  • Regulation Strategy aimed at protecting Consumer interests and making the sector commercially viable.
  • Financing Strategy to generate resources for required growth of the power sector.
  • Conservation Strategy to optimise the utilization of electricity with focus on Demand Side management, Load management and Technology upgradation to provide energy efficient equipment / gadgets.
  • Communication Strategy for political consensus with media support to enhance the general public awareness.,

Rural electrification

Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Uttranchal, Madhya Pradesh etc are some of the states where significant number (more than 10%) of villages are yet to be electrified.

  • Number of Villages (1991 Census) – 593,732
  • Villages Electrified (30 May 2006) – 488,173
  • Village level Electrification % – 82.2%



Several state governments in India provide electricity at subsidised rates or even free to some sections. This includes for use in agriculture and for consumption by backward classes. The subsidies are mainly as cross-subsidisation, with the other users such as industries and private consumers paying the deficit caused by the subsidised charges collected. Such measures have resulted in many of the state electricity boards becoming financially weak.

At present (2009), the price per unit of electricity in India is about Rs. 4 (8 US cents) for domestic consumers, and Rs. 9 for the commercial supply.


Being a highly regulated sector, not surprisingly policies and regulations are playing a pivotal role in the development of this sector. Over the years, the government has realized the importance of the private sector participation. The Electricity Act, 2003 was a turning point in the reforms process which removed the need for license for generation projects, encouraged competition through international competitive bidding, identified transmission as a separate activity and invited a wider public and private sector participation among other things.  Some of the other major reforms that have beenimplemented over the years include: unbundling of SEBs, tax benefits, Accelerated Power Development and Reform. Program (APDRP) for distribution, permission for trading of power, etc7. Furthermore, the National Tariff Policy of 2006 encouraged private investment in the transmission sector through competitive bidding. In addition, the allocation of captive coal blocks to private companies was one of the many noteworthy reforms, increasing the fuel security for the end use project.

Aided by the ambitious plan to add around 78.7 GW of additional generation capacity in the 11th plan by the year 2012, according to CRISIL Research estimates, about INR 7,50,000 crore is likely to be invested in the power sector over the next five years by 2013-14. Of this, INR 4,80,000 crore is expected to be invested in the power generation space. Nearly half of the investments in the power generation space is likely to be made by the private sector8. Along with generation this has opened up opportunities in the transmission sector as well.In order to encourage private sectors in transmission line business, Government of India issued guidelines for private sector participation. These developments have given rise to new opportunities for the private sector especially in the power generation space. As a result, there have been a plethora of new projects announced by the private sector companies many of whom are negligible or have no prior experience in this sector.  This has given birth to the adage of Plans vs. Plants by clearly distinguishing between growth and value utilities. The new entrants in this sector face a number of challenges relating to the project execution, fuel security, power equipment capacities, infrastructure constraints, etc. The purpose of this dossier is to present a high level overview of the key challenges and the risk factors.


The Indian Power Sector organization in India is segregated into five autonomous regional grids namely: the Northern, Eastern, Western, Southern, and Northeastern regional grids. The grids of the all the five regions, excluding the Eastern and North-eastern Regions, function autonomously with just a limited barter of power within the different regions. The major trouble confronted by the Indian Power Industry is the problem of stealing and larceny.Once the central issues are tackled, transmitting convenient, world-class energy will entail massive expansion of the current energy infrastructure of the Indian Power Sector. To invite overseas involvement and investment in the energy sector, the Indian Government has adopted different strategic proposals on reforms to reduce the necessity of government restrictions in areas like production, power distribution, transmission or supply.  The single largest fear for private producers is that they might not be compensated for the electricity they generate. Majority of the distribution companies are yet to emerge from shadow of state control, either by the SEB or their unbundled substitutes, all fraught with economic troubles. The report on “Indian Power Sector (2006)” details the recent challenges that influence the achievements of the Power industry. Some other situations such as: Deficiency in fossil fuel distribution deteriorates further due to the fact that India does not own any reliable sources of renewable energy similar to wind energy, solar energy and biomass etc. The total capacity of hydroelectricity hasn’t yet been properly exploited. According to the market analysts of RNCOS, “India is presently positioned fifth globally among consumable hydroelectricity capacity countries. Though, just 17% has been reined in hitherto, whilst five % more is being further developed, allowing an astounding 78% of that huge capacity lying unused.”

The market research report on Indian Power Sector also presents a comprehensive analysis of the ongoing progress in the power sector. The report examines the current situation in the Indian power sector together with the available plans and controlling guidelines. This report follows the development and functioning of the Indian power sector, the current reform proposals and presents statistical modifications in the fields of production, supply & allocation.


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