While the sector has been trying to work around the supply disruptions caused by Covid-19 over the past six months, capacity addition is yet to pick up. As per the Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) latest available estimates, during April-August 2020, the conventional power generation segment (thermal, hydro and nuclear) added 1,106 MW of capacity, about 50 per cent lower than the 2,025 MW of capacity added during the same period in the previous year. Thermal capacity addition was led by NTPC Limited. In the renewables segment, the capacity addition during April-September was over 2,151 MW, compared to 4,273 MW during the same period in the previous year.
During April-August 2020, the entire conventional power capacity addition of 1,106 MW came from the thermal power segment, taking the total installed capacity to over 372.6 GW. Of the capacity added in 2020-21, the maximum contribution was by the 800 MW Unit 2 of NTPC’s 1,600 MW Lara super thermal power station in Chhattisgarh, which became fully operational. Also, in June 2020, Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited commissioned the first 270 MW unit of the 1,080 MW Bhadradri coal-based thermal power project in Kothagudem, Telangana. The project was executed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). The remaining capacity addition in the sector came from the 36.15 MW Namrup CCGT-gas thermal plant (state sector) of Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited in Namrup, Assam. Meanwhile, the renewable capacity addition during the first six months of the fiscal, at 2,151 MW, was higher than the conventional power generation segment, with the maximum contribution coming from the solar segment at over 1.4 GW, followed by wind power at around 380 MW. The total installed renewable energy capacity now stands at 89.2 GW. Some notable renewable energy projects commissioned recently are Sembcorp Energy India Limited’s 300 MW SECI-3 wind project, which made Sembcorp the first IPP to deliver on the projects awarded in the first three wind tenders held by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), and a 30 MW solar project by coal miner Singareni Collieries Company Limited.
Lines and substations
During 2020-21, line length additions stood at 7,714 ckt km as of September 2020, higher than the 5,303 ckt. km added during the same period in the previous year. The substation capacity addition stood at18,750 MVA, compared to 28,120 MVA during the same period in the previous year.
Public and private transmission majors, including Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, Jharkhand Urja Sancharan Nigam Limited (JUSNL), Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited (KPTL), Sterlite Power, and Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Limited (TANTRANSCO) commissioned several line and substation projects during the first half of the current fiscal. A key project commissioned was Powergrid’s 3,531 ckt. km Raigarh-Pugalur HVDC bipole link. It commissioned Pole 1 of the Raigarh-Pugalur HVDC transmission system in September 2020. The transmission system comprises the 800 kV Raigarh HVDC terminal station (Chhattisgarh) and the Pugalur HVDC terminal station (Tamil Nadu), along with a 1,765 km long ±800 kV HVDC line from Raigarh to Pugalur and two HVAC lines in Tamil Nadu. This 1,500 MW capacity project will evacuate bulk power generated by IPPs in Chhattisgarh.
In the private sector, in September 2020, KPTL announced the partial completion of the North Eastern Region Strengthening Scheme project. In the state sector, Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited commissioned the 220 kV Sadeipalli-Bolangir transmission line in September in a bid to boost power supply to the western part of the state. In May 2020, TANTRANSCO commissioned a 77.31 km transmission line from the new 230 kV substation at Neyveli to Kadalangudi. The total cost of the project is Rs 1,008.2 million. This is the second 230 kV circuit from Neyveli to the delta area.
The substation capacity addition highlight of this period was the commissioning of Powergrid’s 400 kV optical current transformer and digital substation components at the 400/220 kV Bhiwadi substation in collaboration with BHEL. This is the country’s first indigenously developed BHEL-made 400 kV optical current transformer and digital substation. Also, in August 2020, JUSNL commissioned five substations, at Bhagodih (Garhwa district), Jasidih (Deoghar district), and Giridih, Saria and Jamua (Giridih district), along with the 220 kV Dumka-Godda double-circuit power line. Earlier, in April 2020, Sterlite Power commissioned the 765 kV Khandwa substation in Madhya Pradesh, which is part of the Khargone transmission project and will help in stepping down high voltage power from the 1,320 MW Khargone TPP.
The rate of generation capacity addition has slowed down in the current financial year, with capacity build-up of both renewable and conventional energy declining. The sector’s performance is likely to remain subdued through 2020-21, alongside a slowdown in economic activity. Although electricity consumption and generation have improved, sustaining the momentum will be contingent on the easing of Covid-led restrictions and the resumption of economic activity.