'Bhel monopoly in power sector must end'
— P.S. Bami, President, India Energy Forum
India Energy Forum is a non-governmental organisation
representing the energy sector. Established in October 2001, the Forum has
acquired a unique status as 'spokesperson' for the entire energy sector. P.S.
Bami, who is also former chairman, NTPC Ltd, spoke to Mrinalini Prasad
about IEF and the problems facing the energy industry.
What is the current most important issue in the energy
sector that needs immediate redressal?
The current most important issue plaguing the power projects is the delay in
project execution at various stages. The project developer faces delay in
securing various statutory clearances, coal linkage and equipment supply. This
derails the project resulting in cost escalation and tariff hike. By making the
system more efficient these issues can be checked and delays at various stages
can be avoided. There is a huge gap between demand and supply. Effort must come
from both public and private sector to bridge this gap.
What is your view on the growth of the power sector?
There has been a tremendous growth in the sector, especially in the private
sector. Earlier public sector companies were the major players in energy sector
but in last few years private participation in the industry has grown. However,
a lot still needs to be done to achieve the target of 'Power for All by 2012'.
The government must make the whole project implementation process more efficient
and try to remove the bottlenecks that impede project progress.
How can the industry ensure such huge capacity addition given the lack of
The problem of shortage in manufacturing entities in the country was identified
long back. However, the time has come when Bhel monopoly in the sector must end.
The government has been encouraging the entry of more equipment manufacturers.
With such huge targets set, a timely supply of machinery is a must. The industry
has been hoping that, with the growth of the generation sector, the equipment
manufacturing sector would also grow alongside.
What about the power plants lying idle because of shortage of gas?
The country has lost a lot of energy generation because of gas shortage.
Gas-based power projects are running below the required plant load factor. At
present, no developer is planning any new gas-based power projects.
What is the industry's call on the competitive environment that is being
encouraged by the government in this sector?
Competition in any sector is good. There is a lot of business and the
requirements are huge. The industry is very positive about it as it would mean
more transparency in the placement of awards. Competitive bidding will ensure
cheaper power generation and efficient use of resources.
The government is also planning to amend the existing Mine and Minerals Act to
allocate coal blocks through the ICB route.
Competitive bidding in coal sector would also be successful. However, coal
mining requires a lot of experience and there are a lot of responsibilities on
the developer. Therefore, the qualifying criteria must be made stringent.
What steps do you recommend for increasing power generation through
India is the fourth largest wind energy producer in the world. However, more
projects need to be planned in the renewable energy sector which has a huge
potential. Small hydropower is a very good option of generating power. Private
players must be encouraged to take up such projects. We also have enough
expertise in solar sector. The government needs to put in research to bring
these costs down to make solar energy generation viable.
Till when can non-conventional sources contribute to major energy needs?
Coal will remain the prime fuel for energy generation for about next 20 years.
Nevertheless, cleaner coal technologies are being developed to make the thermal
sector more efficient and environment friendly. Supercritical coal-fired units
will also help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Tell us about some of the major initiatives taken by IEF.
India Energy Forum is a think tank of experts from the energy sector. These
specialists come together to debate issues which are represented by the forum
through conferences. The IEF holds these conferences to facilitate open
discussion and a feedback is then given to the government. The Forum has also
decided to invite CEOs of different companies to address the forum members every
Every month, IEF also conducts Urja Vichar Manch - a seminar to discuss the
sectoral issues intimately. IEF also conducts research and provides consultancy
[May 19-25, 2008]