Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi – The architect of transformation of India’s energy ecosystem

RK Singh
Electricity has emerged as an essential requirement – almost as necessary as air or water.  Nothing runs without it – whether it is lights or ventilators or lifts or radars.  Electricity is essential for industrialisation, growth, security and prosperity of a nation.
Before 2014, India was energy deficit – we did not generate enough electricity to meet our requirements and load shedding was endemic.  The electricity grid had not reached all corners of the country - the grids were essentially regional grids with very limited inter-regional transfer capability.  More than 18000 villages and hundreds of thousands of hamlets and near 29 million households had no access to electricity.  This was the situation even 67 years after independence.  The government under Prime Minister Modi decided to change this because no meaningful development was possible without electricity; and what we see today is a total transformation.  We have added 152 GW of generation capacity; transforming our country from power deficit to power surplus.  We added 1,52,000 circuit  Kms. of transmission lines connecting the whole country into one grid with a capacity to transfer more than 100 GW (100000 MW) from one corner of the country to the other.  We have extended the Grid to Leh; now we are extending it to Nubra and Zanskar valleys.
The next challenge was access.  The Prime Minister announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 15th August, 2015, the target of connecting every unelectrified village and every hamlet with electricity within 1000 days.  This was a huge challenge; what had not been done in 67 years was sought to be done in a thousand days.  However, we took up this challenge and we achieved the target of connecting all such villages and all hamlets in 987 days – 13 days before the deadline.  This was a transformational moment.  The International Energy Agency called this the biggest development in the energy sector in 2018.  The last village to be electrified was Leisang, Manipur, which has had its name embedded in the history of electricity.
Connecting the villages was not enough; the ambition of Prime Minister Modi was to connect every house and for this, he launched the programme “Saubhagya” on the 17th of September, 2017 to connect every household.  We connected 26.3 million houses in a span of 18 months. We asked all the States to make sure that no willing household is left out.  By the 19th of March, 2019, we had received certificates from every State to this effect.  We asked the States to cross-check again and to ensure that no household is left out.  This was also done.  This was the largest expansion of access in such a time frame in any country in the history of the power sector in the world.
The Distribution system needed to be strengthened so as to ensure that all the newly connected villages / hamlets and houses received reliable and quality power.  The Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) launched in 2015 had been helping the States strengthen their Distribution system in the rural and the urban areas respectively.   The expansion of access necessitated that these schemes be implemented on a mission mode.  We did so. We constructed 2781 new sub-stations; upgraded 3920 33/11 KV sub-stations; laid / replaced 7½ lac. Circuit Kms of HT & LT Lines; provided 6,69,212 new transformers; laid 1,28,402 Circuit Kms of Agriculture Feeders; 68000 circuit kms of AB cables etc for strengthening the Distribution system across all the States.  Where extra funds were needed over and above those provided under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), we made this available as extra outlay along with Saubhagya.  The net result of all the above has been that the availability of power in the rural areas which was about 12.5 hours in 2015 is now 22.5 hours; and in the urban areas, the average availability across the nation is 23½ hours.
We have brought about changes in systems to increase efficiency; reduce costs, and increase reliability.  We put in place the SCED (Security Constrained Economic Despatch) – under which power from the most efficient plant is despatched first – we flexibalized the utilisation of Coal so that more efficient plants get more coal; made the Letter of Credit mandatory for the despatch of power; reduced the rate of late payment surcharge to bring it in tune with the lower interest rates, put in place Rules For Rights of Consumers; allowed DISCOMs to exit from PPAs after 25 years; reduced the lock in period for investments in transmission and Renewables; allowed utilisation of surplus transmission capacity under an LTA for Renewables and many other reforms – listing of all of which will require more space than this article permits.
Energy transition was another challenge before us. The global warming caused by Green House Gases / CO2 emissions has led to rising concern around the world; increasing the pressure to shift to clean energy.  In COP 21 in Paris countries pledged their Nationally Determined Contributions to the movement for combating climate change in terms of transitioning to cleaner forms of energy and reduction of the emission intensity of their economies.  India pledged that by 2030, 40% of its established capacity would come from non-fossil fuel sources.  In parallel, the Prime Minister Modi announced that India will endeavour to establish 175 GW of Renewable Energy capacity by the end of 2022 – this was almost about 5 times the existing Renewable Energy capacity in 2014; but we are close to achieving it. Our Renewable Energy capacity today is 147 GW (including hydro-power which is included in the RE basket the world over); and we have 63 GW under construction.  This adds up to 210 GW.  Our total established capacity today is 388 GW from all sources.  Our established capacity and the capacity under construction add up to 210 GW - already more than 50 percent of our total capacity.  We are already a world leader in renewables.  Bloomberg categorised us as the most attractive destination for investment in renewables in the world.
And we are innovating.  We are adding the solar - wind - hybrid with storage.  We have already had successful bids for Round The Clock Green Power and Peaking Power with Green Energy. We are shortly going to come out with a bid for 1000 MWH of battery storage. This is 2½ times the biggest established storage capacity in the world. We propose to set-up a 10000 MW of Renewable Energy Park in Ladakh with 14000 MW hrs of storage.  The transmission bid for evacuation of power from Ladakh is going to come out shortly. To be contd