In this article we will discuss about the growth of power systems in India.

India is fairly rich in natural sources like coal and lignite and has immense water power resources of which only about 25% have been utilised so far. Some oil reserves have already been discovered and intense exploration is being undertaken in various states. Though India is deficient in uranium, but has rich deposits of thorium which can be utilised in future.

Since independence, the country has made tremendous progress in the development of electric power and today India has the largest power system among developing countries and fourteenth largest power system in the world.

Electricity has been available in India for the past 100 years. The first station commissioned was a micro-hydel scheme near Darjeeling at the end of the 19th century. The first major effect in the public sector was the commissioning of the first stage of the Sivasmudram hydroelectric scheme, with an initial installed capacity of 4.5 MW in 1902.


Thereafter, small power stations continued to be set up, largely around important urban centres, mainly through the efforts of pri­vate companies. By 1915 the installed capacity had increased to 105 MW. In 1939, the installed capacity in India was 1,200 MW.

At the time of independence the installed capacity was about 1,900 MW, the number of electrified villages was about 1,500 and the number of energized agricultural pumping sets was about 6,400. This was due to the fact that rural devel­opment had not been considered important in the pre-independence era.

In the early stages of the growth of power plants, the major portion of the generation was through steam power stations, but due to economic reasons hydroelectric power development received special attention in areas like Kerala, Mysore, and J&K, Punjab, UP, Assam, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu etc.

In the beginning of the First Five Year Plan, the in­stalled generating capacity in the country was around 2,300 MW (Hydro-560 MW, Steam-1,004 MW, Oil-149 MW and non-utilities-587 MW) which raised to 3,420 MW at the end of the plan. The second Five Year Plan placed special emphasis on the development of public sector and heavy industries and correspondingly on the provision of necessary power generation and distribution facilities.


At the end of the second Five Year Plan the installed gener­ating capacity increased to 5,650 MW. At the end of the second Five Year Plan the number of villages electrified and the number of agricultural pumping sets energised in our country increased to 21,800 and 199,000 respectively.

At the end of the Third Five Year Plan these figures re­garding installed generating capacity, electrified villages and energised agricultural pumping sets increased to 10,170 MW, 45,100 and 513,000 respectively. The energy generated in 1965-66 was 36,825 million kWh.

During last 30 years, emphasis continued to be laid on achieving a rapid growth not only in the power gen­eration facilities but also in strengthening and modernis­ing the transmission and distribution systems. Along with this, rural electrification was given very high priority. During the last 30 years the installed generating capacity and energy generation has increased to 6-7 times whereas the number of electrified villages has increased to 5 times.

The total installed generating capacity by the end of the year 1998-99 became 94,055 MW while total generation became 448,000 million kWh.


India has the fifth largest generation capacity in the world with an installed capacity of 152 GW as on 30.9.2009, which is about 4 per cent of the global power genera­tion. The Indian Govern­ment has set ambitious goals in the 11th plan for power sector owing to which the power sector is poised for significant expan­sion in order to provide availability of over 1,000 units of per capita electric­ity by year 2012, it has been estimated that need-based capacity addition of more than 100 GW would be re­quired. It is proposed to add 23,000 MW during 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17).

Operation performance of generating stations in the country during the year 2010-11 is given below:

Electric Energy Generation Target for the year 2010-11 – 830.8 BU

Actual Electric Energy Generation during the year – 811.1 BU


Growth in generation during 2010-11 – 5.55%

The details of generation and growth rates are given in Table 1.4:

The annual growth in the energy generation during the year has been 5.55% against the CAGR of 5.17% during the period 2001-02 to 2010-11.


Significant progress has also been made in the expan­sion of transmission and distribution facilities. The total length of the transmission and distribution lines above 500 V has increased from about 250,000 km in 1965-66 to 860,000 km in 1973-74. Out of this, the increase in the main transmis­sion lines of 66 kV and above was from 26,700 km to 83,225 km. The LT distribution lines up to 500 V registered an increase from about 290,000 km to 840,000 km in the same period. The transmission voltage adopted for bulk trans­mission of power has also been raised from 220 kV to 765 kV.

As a result of ambitious goals set by the Indian Govern­ment in the 11th plan for power sector, massive addition plans are being proposed in the sub-sectors of Generation, Transmission and Distribution.

The current installed transmission capacity is only 13% of the total installed generation capacity. With focus on in­creasing generation capacity over the next 8-10 years, the corresponding investments in the transmission sector is also expected to augment. The Ministry of power plans to estab­lish an integrated National Power Grid in the country by 2012 with close to 200 GW generations capacity and 37.7 GW of inter-regional power transfer capacity, the current inter-regional power transfer capacity is 20.75 GW.

The total length of transmission lines has become, as on 31.03.2009, 222,746 circuit kilometers (220 kV-122,960 circuit kilometers, 400 kV-89,496 circuit kilometers, 765 kV-3,118 circuit kilometers and HVDC-7,172 circuit kilometer).

While some progress has been made at reducing trans­mission and distribution (T&D) losses, these still remain substantially higher than the global benchmarks, at approxi­mately 33%. In order to address some of the issues in this segment, reforms have been undertaken through unbounding the State Electricity Boards into separate Generation, Trans­mission and Distribution units and privatization of power distribution has been initiated either through the outright privatization or the franchisee routes; results of these initia­tives have been somewhat mixed. While there has been a slow and gradual improvement in metering, billing and col­lection efficiency, the current loss levels still pose a signifi­cant challenge for distribution companies going forward.