If latest government projections are to be believed India may not see any new thermal power plants being installed after 2022.
According to media reports, the ministry of power has asked for funds to set up 72 gigawatts of conventional power capacity between 2017 and 2022. The ministry has also revealed plan to set up 115 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity during the same period.
This 72,495 megawatts conventional power capacity will include 50,025 megawatts of coal-fired capacity, 4,340 megawatts of gas-fired capacity, 15,330 megawatts of large hydro capacity and 2,800 megawatts of nuclear power capacity.
The 115,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity is likely to include mainly solar power capacity.
Between 2022 and 2027, the power ministry plans to add 12,000 megawatts of large hydro capacity, 4,800 megawatts of nuclear power capacity but ZERO thermal power capacity. Around 100,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity is planned to be added during the said period.
If the power ministry indeed goes ahead with this plan it will be nothing short of a revolution in a developing country like India where hundreds of millions still have no access to power. The current government has set a target to provide power connectivity to all households in the country by 2019.
The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) also expects that a large capacity of coal-fired power plants shall become redundant by 2022 with their overall capacity utilisation falling to just 46%. The CEA states low power demand as the reason for this. Low power demand is an expected result of the National Mission on Energy Efficiency through which millions of LED lights have been distributed across the country. Under this mission, other energy efficient appliances are also being promoted.
Some impending reforms in the electricity tariff structure may also help in reducing or, at least, tampering peak demand. Another important step that may reduce demand from thermal power projects is the mandate from the government to first acquire all electricity generated from renewable energy projects.