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India: Electric Power
Country Study > Chapter 6 > Character and Structure of the Economy > Industry > Energy > Electric Power

ELECTRIC POWER


The electric power industry is both a supplier and a consumer of primary energy, depending on the kind of energy used to turn the generators. Hydroelectric and nuclear power plants add to the country's supply of primary energy. The total installed electricity capacity in public utilities in 1992 was 69,100 megawatts, of which 70 percent was thermal, 27 percent hydropower, and 3 percent nuclear. The total installed capacity was programmed to reach around 100,000 megawatts by FY 1996 through a package of government-supported incentives to the private sector.

Because they cannot always depend on public utilities, many larger industrial enterprises have developed their own power generation systems. In 1992 there was a capacity of 9,000 megawatts outside the public utility system. Overall, the generation and transmission of power -- with an average 57 percent plant load factor in FY 1992 in thermal plants and transmission losses of 22 percent -- were inefficient. About 322 billion kilowatt- hours of power were generated by utilities in FY 1992, approximately 8.5 percent shy of demand. The resulting deficit led to acute shortages in some states. This trend continued the next year when 315 billion kilowatt-hours were produced. Many factors contributed to the shortfall of electric power, including slow completion of new installations, low use of installed capacity because of insufficient maintenance and coal, and poor management. In FY 1990, industry accounted for 45 percent of electricity consumed, agriculture 26 percent, and domestic use 16.5 percent. Other sectors, including commerce and railroads, accounted for the remaining 12.5 percent.

Rural electrification made great progress in the 1980s; more than 200,000 villages received electricity for the first time. In 1990 around 84 percent of India's villages had access to electricity. Most of the villages without electricity were in Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Villagers complain that government figures on electrification of villages are artificially inflated. Actually, although lines have been run to most villages, electricity is provided only sporadically (for example, only nine to twelve hours per day), and villagers feel they cannot depend on electricity to operate pumps and other equipment. Electricity to cities also is sporadic; blackouts occur every day in most cities.

India's first hydroelectric station was constructed in 1897 in Darjiling (then Darjeeling). In FY 1990, installed capacity for hydroelectric power was 18,000 megawatts. The country has a large economically exploitable hydroelectric potential, especially in the foothills of the Himalayas, but no large increase in capacity is predicted for the mid-1990s. Hydroelectric facilities have to be coordinated with other sources of electricity because seasonal and annual variations in rainfall affect the amount of water needed to turn the generators and consequently the amount of electricity that can be produced.

Hydroelectric power projects have not been without controversy. Dams for irrigation and power generation have displaced people and raised the specter of ecological problems.

Data as of September 1995




Last Updated: September 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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