India now world’s third largest electricity producer: all you need to know

By Elton Gomes

India witnessed a tremendous growth in electricity production. Over the past seven years, electricity production grew to 34 percent, making India the third-largest producer of electricity. India has now trumped Japan and Russia, which had 27 and 8.77 percent more electricity generation capacity installed, respectively, than India seven years ago.

In financial year (FY) 2017, India managed to produce 1,160.10 billion units (BU) of electricity, wherein one BU is sufficient to power approximately ten million households for a month.

According to a February 2018 report by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), a trust established by the commerce ministry, India produced 1,003.525 BU between April 2017 and January 2018. In FY 2016, with a production of 1,423 BU, India became the third-largest producer and third-largest consumer of electricity in the world.

“Multiple drivers (like industrial expansion and rising per capita income) are leading to growth in power demand; this is set to continue in the coming years,” the IBEF report said, Quartz reported. Over the past five years, India managed to produce 99.21 gigawatts (GW) of additional capacity. Out of this, 91.73 GW came from thermal sources, 5.48 GW from hydro, and two GW from nuclear sources. India’s power sector has received a considerable boost due to the government’s foreign direct investment (FDI) policies.

100 percent FDI has helped India’s power sector

In January 2017, India witnessed a total equity investment of $1.77 billion in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the non-conventional energy sector between April 2014 and September 2016, the government said in an “Achievement Report” of its Make in India initiative.

As per the data available, India received large investments from Mauritius, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Spain, US, and Seychelles. The government also revised its target of renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by the end of 2022, thereby attracting plenty of investors.

The government, in its report, said that the new and renewable energy sector has seen the highest ever solar and wind power capacity addition since the last two years since April 2014. The year 2017 was a good year for the Indian solar energy sector, after it contributed significantly to the overall capacity.

How has solar power helped in generating electricity?

According to a November 2017 report by Quartz, the solar energy sector has had the largest capacity addition to Indian electricity. The report cited data from Mercom Capital Group, a US-based research and consulting firm, and said that solar energy contributed approximately 39 percent to the overall capacity additions.

The US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said in March 2018 that India managed to produce a record 10 GW of solar electricity capacity in 2017-2018 – which amounts to twice the rate logged in the previous year and nearly double the country’s entire solar base. The gains give India 22 GW of total cumulative capacity and this trend seems to be continuing.

Renewable energy continues to boost India’s electricity production

As India strives to achieve its target of generating 175 GW of renewable energy, in May 2018, the government said that India has already achieved 70 GW project capacity while an additional 38 GW is under implementation, according to data till March 31, 2018.

R.K. Singh, minister of power and new and renewable energy, said that India is taking giant strides in the field of renewable energy. “By end of last year 108,000 MW was either installed or was under the process of implementation,” the ministry of new and renewable energy said in a statement, the Economic Times reported.

In addition, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), India will generate 75 percent of its overall electricity from renewable energy. Out of this, a total 34 percent is slated to come from solar energy and 32 percent from wind energy. Wind and solar energy productions are set to surge to almost 50 percent of world generation by 2050.

The world’s top two largest electricity producers

India was just behind China and the US in becoming the third largest producer of electricity. China topped the list after it produced 6,015 BU of electricity. The US came in second place after it managed to produce 4,327 BU of electricity.

PM Narendra Modi claims all villages have been electrified

In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Twitter that “28th April 2018 will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of India. Yesterday, we fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever! I am delighted that every single village of India now has access to electricity,” Business Today reported.

Modi seemed to have fulfilled his electoral promise, but only on paper, as almost 32 million homes remain in the dark.

Villages on the banks of Narmada seem clueless about what electricity is, and electricity poles have been installed in only one village. A villager told India Today, “We have five villages, including Jhandana, Amba and Chameli, which don’t have electricity. Efforts to draw the government’s attention have been futile.”

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius