Electricity Situation in India

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In the last two articles I explained what the grid looks like, what makes it work, and what makes it fail. In this article, I will talk about the electricity sector in India.

Total installed capacity of the top ten countries

Figure 6.1: Total installed capacity of the top ten countries

image 1As seen in Figure 6.1, as of 31st October, 2014, India had an installed capacity of 2,54,649 MW or (254.649 GW since 1 GW = 1,000 MW). India became the world’s 4th largest producer of electricity in the year 2013 surpassing Russia. Only USA, China, and Japan have more installed capacity than India; USA’s and China’s generation is more than 4 times that of India’s!

For the benefit of those who don’t understand how many numbers of various appliances 1 MW can power, take a look at the following table:





1. Small CFL lamp 10 1,00,000
2. T5 tube light 28 35,714
3. 36” ceiling fan 55 18,181
4. 42” ceiling fan 65 15,384
5. 48” ceiling fan 75 13,333
6. Evaporative cooler 400 2,500
7. Window AC (medium) 900 1,111
8. Window AC (large) 1,500 666
9. Desktop with 17” CRT monitor 300 3,333
10. Laptop 75 13,333
11. 32” LCD TV 150 6,666
12. 42” LCD TV 230 4,347
13. 32” LED TV 48 20,833
14. 42” LED TV 58 17,241
15. Refrigerator 150 6,666
16. Microwave oven 1,440 694

So if 1,00,000 CFL lamps of 10W each are switched on at the same time, they will consume 1 MW of power. Similarly, 13,333 48” ceiling fans, 666 large window AC units, 4,347 42” LCD TVs, and 694 microwave ovens will also consume 1 MW of power. And it goes without saying, that these are indicative numbers. The actual power consumption of microwave ovens for example can vary from one model to another, and the same applies to pretty much all appliances. But the above numbers should give you a good “ballpark estimate” as they say.

Total energy consumed in India from 1985 to 2012

Figure 6.2: Total energy consumed in India from 1985 to 2012

image 2Figure 6.2 shows the total energy consumed in India. Power is instantaneous energy, whereas energy is power summed up over a period of time. (Power and energy are analogous to speed and distance respectively.) When 1 kW or 1,000 watts of power is consumed for 1 hour, 1 kWh or 1 unit of energy is consumed. In India, the rate of 1 unit varies from Rs.2 to Rs.7 for residential consumers, Rs.5 to Rs.10 for industrial consumers, and Rs.8 to Rs.15 for commercial consumers. In Figure 2, the energy consumed is in TWh; 1 TWh is 1012 Wh or 109 units. As can be seen, the energy consumption of India in 2012 was 1,040 TWh or 1.04 trillion units, and the average historical growth rate since 1985 has been 6.5% year-on-year (YoY).

Expected growth in peak demand and installed capacity

Figure 6.3: Expected growth in peak demand and installed capacity

image 3Assuming that the future growth rate will be the same as the historical growth rates, the total energy requirement is expected to rise to 1,906 TWh by 2022, while the peak demand is expected to rise to 303 GW. To fulfil this energy/peak demand, installed capacity of almost 420 GW will be required, as can be seen in Figure 6.3. That’s a tough task to say the very least, because it would mean that almost 170 GW of installed capacity would have to be added in the next 8 years, which works out to an average of 21.25 GW per year! This is nearly impossible to do with conventional energy sources; getting all the permissions required is the hardest and the most time-consuming part, and it takes at least 5 years to build a coal/gas/nuclear powered power plant.

Per capita consumption of various developed and underdeveloped countries

Figure 6.4: Per capita consumption of various developed and underdeveloped countries

As if that isn’t daunting enough, India’s future growth rate is expected to be higher than what it has been in the past for the following three reasons:

  • India’s per capita consumption (PCC) is expected to increase as the country develops, progresses, and people start demanding more energy as their quality of life improves. This is a very “natural” phenomenon that has played out in all the developed countries and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t play out in India as well. India’s PCC is a meagre 884 units per year today, whereas the world average is 2,875, and the PCC of developed countries is much higher, as can be seen in the figure 6.4.
  • The number of consumers is going to increase. There are 300 million people in India without access to electricity, believe it or not, spread across half a million hamlets. PM Modi has said that he wants to put a light bulb in every house before the next general elections. So many, if not all, of these people will get access to electricity, thus increasing the overall demand.
  • India’s manufacturing sector is likely to grow faster than in the past. PM Modi’s Make in India vision/campaign is likely to be one of the causes of this. But in general, there is a huge demand for all kinds of products/services in India and it *will* spur the manufacturing sector at some point of time, irrespective of whether Make in India succeeds or not.

image 4So if the demand is going to increase and if conventional energy sources won’t be able to meet the demand, then what is the solution? *That’s* the million dollar question. Should the youth of today simply *wait* till enough capacity gets built and let their golden years slip by? I think not. That is what PM Modi talked about in his election campaign, and that’s exactly why the people of India voted him in to power with a single-handed majority, something that hadn’t happened in last 30 years: to make India what it deserves to become!

I hope this article gave you a very good idea about the electricity sector in India. In the next article, I will talk about what is holding back this sector: power theft.

Sustainably yours,
Prashant Karhade.
Writer, Publisher, Entrepreneur

6 Responses

  1. Manoj Mane 3 years ago
  2. SHARAD KUMAR 3 years ago
  3. Vasu Ramanujam 3 years ago
  4. Prashant Karhade 3 years ago
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