Interview

UDAY: A transformative step to ensure ‘Power for All’

Ashok K. Puri, MD, Hinduja National Power Corporation

The Ujjawal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) it is the single-most transformative step that will pave way to ensure power for all.
Ashok K. Puri, MD, Hinduja National Power Corporation Ltd
Prime Minister has promised ‘Power for All’ by 2019 and the government is engaged in intense efforts to achieve the same. “Data suggests that the country will have a surplus of 3.1 per cent during peak hours and 1.1 per cent during non-peak hours by end of FY2017. Indeed the government has moved fast to remove fuel supply bottlenecks through the coal auctions. However, the power industry believes that more needs to be done to enhance the coal linkage infrastructure,” comments Ashok K. Puri, Managing Director, Hinduja National Power Corporation Ltd.
A Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data sheet suggests that states in southern India will have surplus power to the tune of 3.3 per cent after being power starved for almost a decade, while the Western region will have surplus electricity at 6.9 per cent.
“While this data is encouraging, the eastern and north-eastern region is expected to face a shortage of 10.3 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively. Also one needs to assess factors such as rising demand once manufacturing picks up and exigency situations such as natural calamities cause disruption,” noted Puri.
Currently, 250 million are yet to witness and enjoy the benefits of electricity. A strong transmission and distribution network as well as grid connectivity will ensure that they too become a part of India’s economic development,” opines Puri.
Generation and distributionTransforming India’s power landscape needs to be addressed in two parts—generation and distribution. As per the current power demand calculation methodology, only people who are connected to the grid and have access to electricity are taken into consideration. “However, as the CEA has pointed out recently, the real demand that encompasses all citizens would be known only when the entire population has access to power,” points out Puri.
“In terms of generation as of August 2016, the total installed capacity is 305GW, which includes around 44GW of renewable energy. This does indicate that India is moving towards surplus power. But if that is the case, why do most parts of the country experience power cuts? The answer lies in transmission and distribution,” he adds.
Transmission and distribution falls under the ambit of power discoms, most of which are in a poor financial shape. “The power sector lauds Minister of Power, Coal & Renewable Energies Piyush Goyal’s efforts to solve this problem by launching the Ujjawal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY). It is the single-most transformative step that will pave way to ensure power for all,” he states.
“Discoms have an outstanding debt of over Rs 4 lakh crore. These financially stressed companies are not able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, thus hampering the government’s electrification programme and the nation’s economic development,” he briefs. UDAY assures the rise of vibrant and efficient discoms through a permanent resolution of past as well as potential future issues of the sector. It empowers discoms with the opportunity to break even in the next 2-3 years through four initiatives:

Improving operational efficiencies of discoms
Reduction of cost of power
Reduction in interest cost of discoms; and
Enforcing financial discipline on discoms through alignment with state finances. 
Combined with this the coal auctions and improving coal linkages are catalysing the power sector. The government’s drive to install 175GW of renewable energy will ensure that India fulfils its commitment towards clean energy.
Supporting the sunrise stateAndhra Pradesh is the first state for implementing 24/7 ‘Power for All Scheme’ and pioneer in the country to initiate the power sector reforms as early as 1998. Its total installed capacity is 15,311.17MW and aims to achieve 29,000MW installed capacity of power by 2019. “Hinduja Power intends to support the state to its best capacity and help government to achieve their vision,” assures Puri.
Hinduja Power has recently commissioned 1,040MW power project at Visakhapatnam. It primarily caters to the growing power needs of the rising industrial demand in and around the city of Visakhapatnam and the Southern Region, which includes some of the fastest growing regions in the country.
The company is currently focusing on optimising operations of the existing two 520 MW power station. There are possibilities for green field and brownfield expansion that we are assessing. However, these are still in evaluation stage.
Defeating hurdles The Hinduja Group’s presence in India’s power sector dates back to the 1990s, post-liberalisation period. It had committed to commission two 520 MW thermal fired stations to meet the needs of the people in Andhra Pradesh.
While sharing Hinduja Power’s turnaround story Puri shared, “Since a few regulatory clearances were pending, the project faced initial delay. Furthermore, ‘Cyclone Hudhud’ in October 2014 impacted the plant and more so to the sea water intake and outfall system that increased the wait. However, the first unit began supplying power to the grid since January 2016, and currently, the entire 1,040MW plant is fully operational. Mahanadi Coalfields is the provider of coal for the station.  Today, Andhra Pradesh has become the first among southern states to be power surplus.”
Opportunities for Hindustan PowerThe Hinduja Group believes that India will achieve one of the most balanced energy mix in the decades to come. Today, the government is on a drive to electrify the entire country. The decision to hike Coal India’s production target to one billion tonne followed by the successful coal auctions and the improved linkages are revolutionising the sector.
Over 10,000 villages have been electrified in a short span of 12 months. This indicates the frantic pace at which the government is moving towards electrifying the whole nation. India’s need for power hinges on two factors: broad-based inclusive development and increasing industrialisation.
The launch of the Vidyut PRAVAH mobile app is a testimony to transparency that the Ministry of Power is committed to. The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana is successfully solving the problems of financing that the state discoms have faced traditionally. Solar, Wind and natural gas are increasingly becoming a part of our energy mix.
Amid this revolution, Hindustan National Power Corporation Ltd is committed to support the government’s drive to electrify every village in the country and touch every citizen’s life. “Our vision is to create a generation capacity of 10,000MW over the next few years with an investment of $12 billion, which will add to the government’s massive electrification drive,” he shares.

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