The CEA has projected that the country will have an energy shortage of 10.3 % and a peak demand shortage of 12.9 %

The saga of energy shortage will continue for one more year. This is the broad picture that the Central Electricity Authority (CEA)'s annual report on the country's power supply position gives.

In the financial year that just went by, all regions suffered shortage, both in terms of energy and peak demand. The western and northern regions were the worst hit, as they recorded energy shortages of 13.3 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

For the current year, the CEA has projected that the country will have an energy shortage of 10.3 per cent and a peak demand shortage of 12.9 per cent. While the highest energy shortage of 11 per cent will be in the western region, the maximum peak demand deficit, 14.5 per cent, will be felt by the southern region.

According to the CEA, the hydel-rich States having run of river schemes on the Himalayan rivers — Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand — will be surplus in energy during south west monsoon (June-September) but they will face severe shortages during the winter low-inflow months when the generation from hydro schemes will dwindle to the minimum. Delhi, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Sikkim would have both peaking and energy surplus on an annual basis. Though Himachal Pradesh will witness peak demand deficit from November 2011 to March 2012, the State's overall position in meeting the peak demand for the year is expected to be surplus with 7.1 per cent.

In the south, Karnataka and Puducherry will be energy surplus with 4.7 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively. Other energy-surplus States will be Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Tripura whereas Orissa will be in a comfortable position in peak demand.

All other States and Union Territories will have electricity shortages of varying degrees both in terms of energy and peak demand. Twenty-five of them will have energy deficit, of which four — Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Daman and Diu — will fall under the category of energy deficit of over 20 per cent; nine under the category of 10-20 per cent and six each in the groups of 5-10 per cent and less than 5 per cent.

Deviations highlighted

One may ponder over the accuracy of the CEA's projections. To be fair to the Authority, the annual report clearly indicates the areas of deviation with regard to the projections for the previous year.

Although the Authority's forecast for the entire country saw only a minor deviation, its projections for some States, particularly those in the South, were well off the mark.

Compared to the anticipated figures, the actual energy availability and peak demand met in the South were higher by 8.9 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively whereas the actual energy requirement and peak demand were lower by 1.3 per cent and 2.8 per cent. Similarly, the actual energy shortage in the region was 5.2 per cent against the forecast of 14.1 per cent.

The actual energy shortage in Andhra Pradesh was 3.2 per cent (anticipated shortage: 11.6 per cent); Karnataka 7.6 per cent (13.3 per cent); Kerala 1.4 per cent (10.1 per cent); Tamil Nadu 6.5 per cent (18.4 per cent) and Puducherry 4 per cent (5.7 per cent).

The actual peak demand and energy shortage was less than the anticipated due to higher load factor, demand-side management, lower requirement and higher availability of energy.

One more reason was that most of the southern States went on in an aggressive way to purchase power on a temporary and daily basis. As a result, what was sold at Rs. 8 or Rs. 9 per unit in the early part of 2010-11 got almost doubled in the later part of the year. At one stage, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation bought power daily at an overall cost of Rs. 50 crore. Still, the authorities had resorted to load shedding of 1,500 MW daily.

What policy makers and administrators have to realise is that fundamental and chronic problems cannot be overcome through short-term measures. Additional capacity has to be created in a sustained and rapid manner. There is no short-cut to this option.

During 2010-11, about 12,161 MW only could be added against the target of around 21,440 MW. This year, it has been planned to add nearly 17,200 MW. It appears that the country will not even meet the revised target of about 62,300 MW. When the XII Plan ends, the achievement could be around 50,000 MW. All these only reinforce the need for focussed attention on capacity addition.

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