Draft Electricity Plan on Generation for the period 2017 - 2027
CEA deserves congratulations for having taken a rational and bold stand that no coal-based power capacity addition is required until 2027. It is also a matter of solace that the govt. of India has the target of 175,000 MW of renewable energy (RE) capacity by 2022 and the target share of non-fossil based installed capacity of 56.5% by the end of 2026-27, which is considerably better than the target stated in INDC. The CEA draft plan also has taken a welcome approach of the beginning of a holistic view of the demand/supply of electricity by focusing on energy efficiency, conservation, and demand-side management (DSM) issues, which should be vigorously pursued against any odds. Whereas it is a welcome step that CEA’s draft plan has started to consider the impact of power sector on the environmental issues in general and GHG emissions, in particular, a lot more commitment in minimising such impacts on a long term basis has become critical from the overall welfare perspective of the nation. Whereas the recognition of facts such as (i) the demand for electricity by 2022 and 2027 will be less than that projected in the 18th EPS, (ii) very many impediments in setting up additional conventional technology power plants, and (iii) the RE sources can take a much higher share of total power generation capacity is appreciated, it will be in the larger interest of our society if the overall approach of the power sector takes into diligent consideration the economic decision-making tools “Options Analysis” and “Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA)” in deploying any technology and before embarking on any project. A diligent approach to the generation planning will reveal that additional coal power capacity in particular, and conventional technology power plants in general, will not be needed in future years also if all the other available options are optimally used.The careful deployment of distributed type of RE sources enabled with micro/smart grids need to be given adequate focus in order to minimise the deleterious impacts of conventional technology electricity sources, and to ensure electricity for all sections on a sustainable basis and at acceptable costs. In all such planning processes, the effective consultation with the stakeholder groups such as domain experts, civil society organisations, and concerned individuals should become an avowed norm than an exception.