Get ready to face the heat this summer. The peak hour shortfall of electricity in the country is projected to touch 14-15 per cent over the next couple of months - the highest in a decade - due to inadequate addition to generation capacity in the last few years. During the last five years the power generation capacity added only 21,280 Mw, a little over half the targeted 41,110 Mw.
According to the latest government estimates, the country will face a peak hour power shortage of 14,000-15,000 Mw in the coming months, against a demand of over 100,000 Mw, which would result in inevitable blackouts and loadshedding.
The government is however hoping that next year the situation would be different because a significant chunk of the capacity addition which slipped in the 10th plan period (2002-07), would be realised in 2007-08. "There would be 14,000 Mw capacity added this year. The summer of 2008 would certainly be better than 2007," said a senior official at Central Electricity Authority.
Also, with 49,000 Mw of capacity already under various stages of construction, the 11th plan (2007-12) target of 78,557 Mw is more likely to be achieved. "This would also ease the gap in electricity demand and supply," said another official at CEA.
According to the latest projections regionwise, peaking shortage in the northern region would hit a high of 14.4 per cent in July before tempering to 11 per cent in August. Thought this is better than the peaking shortage of 15.5 per cent recorded by the region in July last year, the situation in some states is worse.
Take Punjab. The projected peaking shortage in July is 39.7 per cent in July compared to 28.3 per cent peaking shortage recorded in July last year. Its neighbour Haryana is expected face a peaking shortage of 28.1 per cent in July compared to 13 per cent last year. The average energy shortage in the northern region will also reach 10 per cent in July.
In the southern region, Andhra Pradesh will face a peaking shortage of 17 per cent in July compared to a shortage of less than 1 per cent in the same period last year. Karnataka will have an acute energy shortage of 13 per cent in June.
In the western region, Maharashtra is facing one of the worst crises with an energy shortage of about 20 per cent and is likely to experience peak hour power shortage of over 25-28 per cent in May-June, according to a survey by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
Not surprisingly, power-intensive industries are increasing their reliance on captive power, which accounts for about 15 per cent of the country's overall generation capacity.
"As a company, we have largely covered our energy needs from captive power generation and this is a trend in the cement industry, where companies are increasingly turning self-sufficient as far as power consumption is concerned," said Shailendra Chouksey, director of JK Laksmi Cement.
The shortages will also leave large steel producers like SAIL unaffected. "As SAIL mostly fetches its power requirements from captive power plants, we are seldom affected by shortages," says Debjit Rath, SAIL's general manager, corporate affairs.
Other steel producers, like ISPAT, which consumes 300 Mw to run Maharashtra's biggest steel plant, are banking on the state to provide the power."We expect the state government to provide us with an uninterrupted supply as we are a continuous industry," said a company official.