The Narendra Modi-led government will double the country’s coal and power output in five years by encouraging private-sector mining, ensuring fuel supplies to power producers and enabling them utilise their full capacity, power and coal minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.
Talking at the World Economic Forum summit here, the minister said he has set a target of making the country power surplus by 2019 although by that time, demand might also double to 2 trillion units. This would offer investors a $250-billion investment opportunity, he said.
One of the means to achieve this output growth is by doubling coal production to a billion tonnes in five years from over 500 million tonnes now. The government has recently come out with an ordinance that contained a provision enabling commercial mining in the private sector, while it is on the job of re-allocating the captive coal blocks of private companies cancelled by the Supreme Court via a transparent auction process.
Goyal said 5.3 crore homes in the country were not yet electrified and many factories were operating on diesel power units, addressing which is a priority for the government.
The government will, therefore, take steps to increase power plants’ access to fuel supplies and improve their capacity utilisation. Improving the electricity mix with greater focus on renewable energy sources is also on the agenda, he said.
“This government is sincere in giving power to all and this government will protect investments as we go forward,” he said.
The minister said the e-auction of coal blocks announced recently through an ordinance would encourage private sector participation in the coal sector.
Goyal said he has set a target of 100 gigawatts of solar power generation by 2022, multiplying the UPA government’s target fivefold. He appeared cautious on nuclear power saying that the US and many European countries have discontinued installation of nuclear plants.
“This government would like to be cautious that we are not being saddled with something only under the garb of clean energy or alternate energy; something which the West has discarded and is sought to be brought to India.”
The minister stated that efforts were on to improve the bankability of projects in the power sector. The minister stated that the government was planning to invest $250 billion in the power sector over the next five years.