Govt expects $250B investment in energy sector

The government hopes to attract USD 250 billion (Rs 15 lakh crore) investment within 4-5 years to give a boost to the energy sector and provide electricity to all, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

Efforts are also being made to increase coal production, strengthen electricity transmission network and get back gas- based power plants on stream, said Goyal, who also holds portfolios of Coal and New and Renewable Energy ministries.

The investments, totalling USD 250 billion for power generation, coal mining as well as electricity distribution and transmission sectors, would help the government increase power generation and ensure electricity supplies to all households in the country by 2019, Goyal said.

Speaking at the India Economic Summit, organised here by Geneva-based World Economic Forum and Indian industry chamber CII, Goyal said that India's total power consumption would double to 2 trillion units by 2019 and the majority of investments would come from the private sector although the government would also invest more.

The government is also pushing ahead with ambitious plans for the renewable sector, especially solar energy, where the generation capacity is to be increased to 1,00,000 MW by 2022, he added.

"We are expecting around USD 250 billion investments in the next four to five years... About USD 100 billion will be in the renewable energy," Goyal said.

The country's electricity transmission segment is anticipated to see an investment of around USD 50 billion during this period, he added.

The government is sincere in its efforts and "will protect investments", the Minister said.

To meet the increasing electricity generation requirements, Goyal said, Coal India is expected to double its production to around one billion tonnes by 2019.

The private sector is also expected to play an increasing role in the coal sector and an ordinance issued recently by the government addresses many of the issues, he said.

The ordinance related to the coal sector came after the Supreme Court cancelled a large number of coal block allocations.

About 53 million homes in the country are yet to get electricity and many industries depend on diesel generation sets to meet their requirements.

According to Goyal, all households are expected to have electricity access by 2019.

In the renewable space, the government expects to nearly double the installed wind generation capacity to more than 40,000 MW by 2019, he said, adding that the government is pursuing the strategy of improving the utilisation of existing assets and freeing up stranded assets.

Efforts are also on to improve the bankability of power projects, he added.

India has an installed power generation capacity of over 2,50,000 MW but many plants are facing fuel supply problems resulting in lower production.

Besides, many other issues such as hurdles in getting clearances and poor financial health of power distribution companies are adversely impacting the power sector.

Responding to a query on the health of electricity grid, Goyal said steps are in place to ensure its stability, including heavy penalties for erring entities.

Speaking at the session, Bharat Light and Power President and CEO T P Chopra said that accessibility, affordability and availability of power are the key issues.

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