India has come a long way in terms of electricity generation capacity. The country now has more than 350 GW of gross installed electricity capacity, with a maximum load achieved of approximately 180 GW. This means that India has sufficient or even surplus electricity generation capacity. The Ministry of Energy in India is responsible for managing central government-owned enterprises involved in electricity generation.
The ministry has established the National Electricity Policy, Rural Electrification, Open Access in Transmission, Phased Open Access in Distribution, Mandatory SERC, Unlicensed Generation and Distribution, Energy Trading, Mandatory Metering and Severe Penalties for Electricity Theft. Solar power plants require nearly 2.4 hectares (0.024 km of land per MW of capacity), which is similar to coal-fired power plants when considering life-cycle coal mining, consumer water storage and ash removal areas, and hydroelectric power plants when including immersion area of the water tank. Hydroelectric power plants with generation capacity ≤ 25 MW are included in the Renewable category (classified as SHP - Small Hydro Project). India's coal, oil and natural gas power plants are inefficient and their replacement with cheaper renewable technologies offers significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas (CO) emissions.
After considering distribution costs and losses, solar energy seems to be a viable economic option to replace LPG and kerosene used in the domestic sector. Auxiliary consumption, which is the generation consumed within the plant and therefore not fed to the grid, varies according to the type of generation and further reduces the net firm capacity available to meet demand. Total installed power generation capacity is the sum of public grid capacity, captive power capacity and other non-utility capacity. India has surplus power generation capacity, but lacks adequate fuel supply, transmission and distribution infrastructure.
Future studies should investigate the optimal generation combination required, from the perspective of true technical economics (other than contract economics), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and grid stability in a high-RE future. To meet the growing demand for electricity in the country, a massive addition to installed generation capacity is required. In the future, India needs energy peaks, storage and load shifting as tools to balance demand and supply, along with more flexible and thoughtful pricing according to the time of day for electricity supply. Coal has underpinned the expansion of power generation and industry, and remains the largest single fuel in the energy mix.
Power generation sources range from conventional sources such as coal, lignite, natural gas, oil, hydroelectric and nuclear power, to viable non-conventional sources such as wind, solar, agricultural and household waste.