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Hungry Capital on a power trip

Unsettling By 2021, the city’s soaring power demand is likely to be enough to plunge five major states and UTs into darkness. Power guzzlers have ensured that the demand went up by 200% in the past decade.

delhi Updated: Apr 23, 2013 04:22 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times

Does your plan for the summer entail buying a split air-conditioner or a brand new double-door refrigerator? Well, considering the soup Delhi is in — or will be in a few years from now — you may want to reconsider that.

According to a Central Electricity Authority (CEA) estimate, the city’s power demand is likely to sour to 12,000MW by 2021, which would be enough to plunge five major states and union territories — Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand — into darkness. In 2012, Delhi’s demand for power soared to 5,642MW, a 200 per cent rise from 2,859MW in 2002.

What will interest you more, however, is another calculation by an Austria-based scientific institute. According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, air-conditioners make up for 28 per cent of Delhi’s electricity consumption during summer. Even refrigerators are big power guzzlers.

And considering that Delhi’s power generation capacity of 1,300MW has remained the same over the decade, and that power demand is becoming a trend across the country, buying more power-guzzling appliances is not a good idea. Though the Central pool for Delhi has increased from 1,800MW to 2002 to 3,000MW in 2012, the scope of getting more power for Delhi from the Centre is minimal, said Shakti Sinha, power secretary of Delhi.

“Delhi’s power generation has not increased at all. Coal shortage is badly affecting the supply and our Bawana plant has been hit due to non-availability of gas,” Sinha said.

To make the city self-sufficient in terms of power is proving to be a Herculean task considering the shortage of fuel due to which power plants at Bawana and Rithala have been producing almost negligible amount. The fuel situation is only going to only worsen in the coming few years.

And all this while power consumers are being added to the city: The customer base of private power distribution companies is increasing by 80% from 24.51 lakh to over 42 lakh currently.

Experts say that conventional energy has been exploited to the hilt and time has now come to explore new avenues. "The demand is only going to increase exponentially in the and our conventional source of energy will not be able to keep up. Delhi has ample resources in the form of a tropical sun and it should be suitably exploited. The prices of solar panels have come to a level where the price of solar power is within the peak power tariff (which the discoms pay to purchase power for the city)," said Prodipto Ghosh, former secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest and expert with The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI).

And since Delhi is a consumer of power, and not a producer, its residents need to increasingly begin exploring alternative sources of power and decrease the consumption of electricity by switching to more energy-efficient methods.

First Published: Apr 23, 2013 00:08 IST