Brookings India hosted a Tiffin Talk for ongoing research on “Understanding India’s generation capacity- surplus and for how long?” with M. Tabish Parray, Research Assistant, Energy & Sustainability, Brookings India and Rahul Tongia (Fellow, Brookings India). This analysis focused on understanding the wide gap between nameplate electricity capacity (350 GW) in India and the actual “load met” which is only half this figure. Over two dozen scholars and experts joined the discussions, many of them remotely. The Brookings India Tiffin Talks are a series of closed-door seminars where scholars present their research to a group of domain experts in the spirit of open dialogue, feedback, and critique. Summary of the event The event started with the assessment of the Capacity Outages in India as reported by the official sources (CEA/NLDC’s). It started a debate and many scholars contested the “official” definition of outages. This was followed by a further breakdown of the outages based on their reasons as reported by the NLDC’s. In the presentation, the outages were categorised into ones that can be recovered and brought online as the demand increases, as well as those which cannot be recovered. The recoverable outages are the ones that currently exist due to fuel shortages and plants that are available but are not operated due to low demand. The latter will be the first ones to be brought online as the demand increases in future. The presentation further focused on the rise of peak demand over the years and projected future growth scenarios. The peak demand is heavily concentrated in the evenings, when the contribution of solar is zero and in a low wind season the total RE contribution in the evenings can fall below 2 GW levels. The simulations stated that the concentration of peak demand in the evenings, coupled with an increase in demand over the years will lead to a scenario of possible unmet demand as early as 2020-2021. The presentation highlighted this issue and the various measures that could be used to counter the scenario. One of the key additions to the discussion was that unmet demand should not be directly equated to a need for additional capacity building. Also, a key recommendation for preponement of environmental upgrades of power plants emerged from the discussion. The participants made valuable suggestions for the enhancing the analysis. The plants which are shut down due to low demand, especially raised interest of the participants. It was suggested that looking at whether these power plants are owned by NTPC/State/Private players will be interesting. Also, whether the powerplants under low demand shutdown are new/old is also interesting. Further suggestions were made regarding whether the capacity that is to be retired could be strategically used to meet peak demand in future.
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