The government is working towards making India a power surplus country by 2019, Minister of State for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said Thursday.He said that ensuring the availability of power on a 24x7 basis was one of the most pressing challenges the Narendra Modi government faced. The minister was addressing a session at the India Economic Summit being organized by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry here.He pointed out that 53 million homes in the country were not yet electrified. There were still many offices and factories operating on diesel gensets. The government had made it a priority to find ways of ensuring that power reaches these consumers. He expected that the demand for power in the country would double in the next five years.
Goyal said the government was pursuing a two-pronged strategy to improve the utilization of existing assets by improving plant load factor and freeing up stranded assets and improving access to fuel supplies. The government was also improving the electricity mix with greater focus on renewable energy sources.The minister highlighted that the government was sorting out the coal issue by passing an ordinance taking into account the judgement passed by the Supreme Court and he was hopeful that private sector participation in the coal sector would once again pick up.
In addition, measures were being taken to double the output of Coal India over the next five years. This would help enhance the utilization of existing thermal power plants.Goyal said renewable sources of energy were one of the thrust areas of the government. The government was taking measures to ensure that solar power generation would touch 100 GW by 2019. Efforts were on to improve the bankability of projects in the power sector. The minister said the government was planning to invest $250 billion in the power sector over the next five years.Addressing the summit, T.P. Chopra, president and chief executive officer of Bharat Light and Power, said India’s demand for power was growing along with its population.
This was being further fuelled by urbanisation and the growth of mega-cities. Accessibility, affordability and availability of power, were therefore the key issues facing the country, Chopra said. He highlighted the need to effectively utilize technology to improve the efficiency of the power generating system in India. He felt that the cost of generating renewable energy such as solar power was declining and that would make it a viable alternative source of energy.