There is acute shortage of energy in the country. This leads to energy crisis which is apparent in frequent load shedding, power failure, closure of factories, man-hour loss and decrease in production. Part of the problem is related to the insufficient energy resources leading to the shortage in supply which is not able to meet the growing demands of power in the rapidly expanding industrial, transport, agricultural and urban sectors.
A comparison of growing electricity generation through the plans and increasing demands shows that deficit is mounting year after year which now stands at one-fifth of the demand even at the abysmally low level of per capita consumption, i.e., 340 km as against the world average of 2,500 km and 8,000 km for the developed countries.
The consumption of electricity in the country is increasing at the rate of 10 per cent per year. According to the 14th electric power survey of India, the country’s peak demand projected for the year 2010 AD is 1,72, 267 MW against the actual installed capacity of 85,795 MW in 1996-97. This requires additional installed capacity of 86,472 MW in Just 13 years which seems to be an uphill and impossible task. Against the target of 30,000 MW for the Eighth Plan only 7,960 MW has been installed so far. This will lead to further decrease in per capita electricity supply and worsening of the power crisis.
The country has still to meet over half of its demands of petroleum and its products through import and there is no possibility of respite in the near future despite vigorous efforts for oil explorations. Coal resources are confined to a limited part of the country and can last only for another six-seven decades. The transport of coal is a great problem and its mining and utilisization are causing great deal of environmental pollution and irreparable damage to ecology.
Another aspect of the energy crisis is related to the mismanagement of power sector, low efficiency of power houses, labour problem, and power pilferage and power wastage. The plant load factor (PLF) is very low in most of the power houses (Badarpur 33%, eastern region 21-31%, national average 47%) and most of the state electricity boards are running in loss and are under debt trap. About 23% of the power generated is lost during transmission and distribution.
The energy consumption level in industries, transport and lighting is very high. Whereas the specific energy consumption ranges from 4.3 to 7.07 Geal per ton of crude steel in India it is only 3.221 Gael in the United Kingdom. The electrical energy demand ranges from 102 km/ tone of cement for the wet process to 129 km/ tone for the dry process as against 87 km/tone and 110 km/ton respectively for the world as a whole.