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India’s per capita energy consumption, lowest in the world

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 | 9:00 AM

Government of India had set the target to covering 78.09 million rural households or approximately 390-400 million Indians that do not have access to electricity as 78,000 MW capacity addition has been planned in the five years upto 2012.

As per the 2001 census 84.7 million households had no access to electricity. About 78 million of these were in rural areas, while 6.7 million were in cities. As per a 2006 paper "ENERGY MARKETS AND TECHNOLOGIES IN INDIA" authored by R.V. Shahi, Secretary, Union Ministry of Power too, 56% of rural households (about 78 million) do not have access to electricity. Shahi was the longest serving Power Secretary in Indian history from April 2002- January 2007. (It has been reported that Planning Commission vice-chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia objected his being given extension owing to his allegiance to business houses and has been charged giving undue favours to some private power majors.)

As per Eleventh Five Year Plan 2007-12 document, India currently ranks as the world’s seventh largest energy producer, accounting for about 2.49% of the world’s total annual energy production. It is also the world’s fifth largest energy consumer, accounting for about 3.45% of the world’s total annual energy consumption in 2004.

Although renewables are likely to account for only around 5%–6% of the primary commercial energy-mix by 2032. The role of new and renewable energy assumes added significance, irrespective of whether it replaces coal or oil. Given the growing concerns for climate change and energy security, it is imperative that this energy in the longer term will substantially increase its share in the fuel-mix.

India’s per capita energy consumption is one of the lowest in the world. India consumed 455 kilogram of oil equivalent (kgoe) per person of primary energy in 2004, which is around 26% of world average of 1750 kgoe in that year. As compared to this, per capita energy consumption in China and Brazil was 1147 kgoe and 1232 kgoe, respectively.

Peak demand estimation by the end of XI Plan (2007) was 157 GW and by the end of XII Plan (2012) is 213 GW. It has been argued that for next 30 years, capacity will need to be doubled every 10 years. India has taken a position that all hydro is renewable irrespective of size and it is claimed that even World Energy Congress has taken note of it.

The Expert Committee (EC) on Integrated Energy Policy, Planning Commission has projected primary energy demand for 2031–32 for India. Its report submitted in 2006 deals with various sources and forms of energy (electricity, coal, oil, gas, nuclear, hydel energy, renewables including wind energy, solar energy, biofuels, wood plantations), the country’s projected requirement and availability of resources, energy security, energy efficiency as well as R&D priorities.

The primary commercial energy resources in the country such as coal is abundant and is mostly concentrated in the eastern region, which accounts for nearly 70% of the total coal reserves, the western region has over 70% of the hydrocarbons reserves in the country. Similarly, more than 70% of the total hydro potential in the country is located in the northern and the north eastern regions. The southern region, which has only 6% of the coal reserves and 10% of the total hydro potential, has most of the lignite deposits occurring in the country.

Coal continues to be the major energy resource of the country. As on January 2007, the coal reserves were 253.3 billion tonnes (bt), out of which 97.92 bt are in the ‘proved’ category.

The lignite reserves as on April 2006 were estimated at 38.27 bt, out of which 4.5 bt is in the proved category. If all the inferred reserves materialize, these reserves can sustain current level of production for 140 years.

The balance of recoverable oil reserves as on 1 April 2006 is around 1653 mt (Directorate General of Hydrocarbon, DGH 2005–06 report), which can sustain the current level of production for the next 35 years. The current level of production barely caters to 26% of the petroleum products demand and the balance oil requirements are met by importing the crude. The situation was expected to improve once the production started from Krishna–Godavari (K–G) basin reserves.

At present, nuclear energy installed capacity is 3900 MWe which is 3.1% of total installed power generation capacity and the Plant Load Factor (PLF) of Nuclear Power stations is 57%. India’s long-term nuclear power programme is based on utilizing the vast indigenous resources of thorium for electricity generation. The three-stage nuclear power development programme in India is aimed at converting thorium to fissile material. India is poorly endowed with uranium and available uranium resources can support 10000 MWe electricity generation programme based on pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) using natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant.

The energy potential of natural uranium can be increased to about 300000 MWe in the second stage through fast breeder reactors (FBRs) which utilize plutonium obtained from the recycled spent fuel of the first stage along with thorium as blanket to produce U233. With the deployment of thorium in the third stage using U233 as fuel, the energy potential.

Note: As per convention, final energy consumption is generally expressed as weights of fuels burnt, or from kWh consumed if it is electricity.

Each fuel, while burning, produces certain amount of energy in the form of heat that can be measured in standard units such as kilocalories or Joules.

Fuels are compared using their calorie content with that of oil in tonnes or million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe). One tonne of oil is worth 42 billion Joules or 10 billion calories whereas one million tonne of Indian coal has 4.1 billion calories. Thus 1 mt of coal is 4.1/10 mtoe or 0.41 mtoe.

Electrical energy measured in kWh is also converted into the thermal energy kcal or kJ using the definition and finally
expressed as mtoe (1 billion kWh = 0.86 billion calorie).

Taking the thermal efficiency of the power plant and other losses in the system, the equivalence between electricity and fossil fuels would be 1billion kWh = 0.28 mtoe (in case of coal-fired boilers) and 0.261 mtoe (in case of nuclear electricity). 1 billion kWh generated from hydroelectricity or wind power, however, are considered as equivalent to 0.086 mtoe since there is no intermediate stage of heat production while using these primary energies.

It is possible to argue that the efficiency of thermal power plant should be used to convert hydroelectricity and wind power also.

In this case, 1 billion kWh of hydroelectricity would be equivalent to 0.28 mtoe. This has an important bearing when one considers how much renewable energy is renewable. Thus in 2006–07 renewable energy was 2.8% or 8.3% of India’s total primary commercial energy depending on the conversion factor used.


P.S.: As many as 14 States have restructured or corporatized their power sector and unbundled their boards into separate entities for transmission, distribution, and generation. Distribution has been privatized in Orissa and Delhi.

Setting up of State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) has become mandatory.

A total of 25 States have either constituted or notified the constitution of SERC and 21 SERCs have issued tariff orders.

A total of 26 States have notified rural areas under Section 14 of the Act, permits have been taken of composite schemes of generation and distribution without any license. In compliance with Section 3 of the Electricity Act 2003, the Central Government notified the National Electricity Policy in 2005. National Electricity Policy (2005) aims at total village electrification by 2010. And by year 2012 per capita availability to be 1000 units, installed capacity over 200,000 MW and energy efficiency/conservation savings about 15%.

Similarly, National Tariff Policy was also notified in 2006. Further, in compliance with Sections 4 and 5 of the Electricity Act 2003, the Central Government notified the Rural Electrification Policy on 28 August 2006. The Central Government constituted the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity and the same became operational in July 2005. The Tribunal has started hearing appeals against orders of the Regulatory Commissions/Adjudicating Officers.
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