South India is reeling under a power crisis and unless key issues of fuel, land and water availability are addressed and current power generation projects are fast-tracked, things may take a turn for the worse, industry leaders warned Wednesday.
Participants in at the two-day conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which began here Wednesday on regional power conference on 'Reliable and Affordable Power for All: Managing the Next Decade' felt that shortage of natural gas and coal have hit existing projects.
The fall in generation at hydel plants due to insufficient rains this year, issues related to land and water availability and environment have added to the woes, they said.
South India is witnessing a deficit of 19.5 percent in power supply, which is highest for any region in the country.
States Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and union territory Pudducherry require over 277 billion units during 2012-13 but the supply is estimated at 223 billion units. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are the worst hit with 22.8 percent and 29.6 percent deficit respectively.
S. Chandrasekhar, chairman, Energy and Power Sub Committee, CII Southern Region, and managing director, Bhoruka Power Corporation Ltd., stressed the need to find ways to ensure that gas-based projects operate at a reasonable Plant Load Factor (PLF).
With Coal India estimating that 15 to 20 percent of coal required by India would have to be imported by 2015, Chandrasekhar suggested that pool pricing be introduced for both imported and domestic coal so that all operators and developers get coal at a uniform price.
Krishna Ram Bhupal, managing director, G.V.K. Power, underlined the need for gas pool pricing at the centre and the state levels as a short-term measure to keep the existing gas-based projects alive. "As a long-term measure, India needs a fuel security plan as it can't rely on gas from only two basins," he said.
Pattabhi Raman, chief executive officer, East Coast Energy, said: "There is a myth that thermal power stations are there only for creating pollution," he added.
M. Sahoo, Principal Secretary for Energy, government of Andhra Pradesh, called for a sustainable approach in managing the demand and supply gap.
"The socio-political situation in which we operate make operational and management issues become difficult," he said in a reference to free electricity for farmers and low tariffs. Sahoo said the so-called national grid connectivity by connecting the southern grid to North East West (NEW) grid can't solve the problem unless capacity is created.
Some southern states are demanding that the region be connected to the national grid so that power can be available to them in times of crisis.