18 January, 2013. PUNE — More than 64,000 MW, nearly 30 percent of India’s installed electricity generation capacity of 225000, is lost in inefficiency and leakages, according to Nityanand Jayaraman, a member of the Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle. Jayaraman is in Pune as part of the Vasundhara film festival that is being co-organised by Lokayat. Citing Government of India figures, he said that the India’s electricity sector is like a leaky bucket. At the current rate of leakage, the 32000 MW of capacity that is sought to be added through new nuclear power plants in Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Fatehabad, Mithi Virdi, Kovvada and Chutka will disappear without a trace. Efficiency improvement measures can realistically save this 64,000 MW at a nominal cost of about Rs. 50 lakhs per MW. In contrast, nuclear power costs about Rs. 25 crores per MW and coal about Rs. 7 crores. Jayaraman, who is a writer from Chennai, questioned why the Government of India is keen on pouring more money into a leaking bucket while a cheaper and quicker option to bridge the deficit is readily available.
The losses referred to above are in the nature of Transmission and Distribution losses, and losses due to inefficiencies in the equipment used at the consumers’ end. According to a study by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Government of India, conservative measures to enhance efficiency of agricultural pumpsets, commercial and domestic lighting, air conditioning and refrigeration and industrial equipment can yield a savings of 19,000 MW.
Agricultural pumpsets, currently being subsidised at Rs. 10,500 crores by the Maharashtra Government, are horribly inefficient and medieval technologies. The Government of India study reports that Maharashtra’s 11 lakh pumpsets account for 17 percent of the state’s total electricity consumption. The pumpsets operate at a pathetically low efficiency of 25 to 35 percent. Improving the efficiency even modestly to 50 percent can yield savings of 1500 million units. Energy efficiency measures in agricultural, commercial, industrial and domestic consumption can easily free up 8000 million units of electricity a year. Further, reducing the State’s transmission and distribution losses from the current 22 percent to 5 percent – which is technically achievable – the state can save more than 12,000 million units. Taken together, efficiency enhancement measures alone can save more than 20,000 million units. That is more than the current deficit faced by the Government of Maharashtra.
Jayaraman said the Governments of Maharashtra and India must first plug the holes in their leaky electricity infrastructure and curb wasteful consumption. He pointed out that 40 crore people in India lacked access to electricity, while electricity was being wasted to illuminate flex banners in prominent city locations like the Nall Junction.