Greenpeace activists protest outside Delhi Vidhan Sabha

Over-dependence on coal is not an answer to Delhi’s power woes: Greenpeace

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Press release - April 1, 2013
New Delhi, April 1 2013: Today Greenpeace India staged a protest in front of the Delhi Vidhan Sabha by mounting a huge caricature of Chief Minister Shiela Dixit. The caricature takes a dig at the Chief Minister for assuring uninterrupted electricity supply to the people, this summer, without having any concrete plan. The protest was staged during the on-going budget session to remind the Delhi government and legislatures about the impending electricity crisis, Delhi will suffer, in the coming summer, due to state’s over dependence on coal. The capital already is witnessing long unscheduled power cuts in many parts just at the onset of summer.

The massive grid failure and blackout in July 2012 has evidently showed that energy from fossil fuels and coal is not reliable. The severe electricity shortage in Delhi was due to lack of coal supply to NTPC’s five major power plants which supply one-third of electricity to the city (1). These events clearly depict that the dependence on fossil fuels based electricity is not the future.

“Delhi Government and in particular the Chief Minister who is going for election later this year to seek an unprecedented fourth term, should understand that real solution to power crisis in Delhi does not lie in being over dependent on technologies based on coal which is becoming expensive, but increasing investment in renewable energy like Solar and Biomass to create sustainable future and long-lasting energy infrastructure for the state,” said Abhishek Pratap, Senior Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Over 75% of Delhi’s electricity comes from coal-based thermal power plants which are mostly situated in other states. Last year, 32 major thermal power plants, including five major power plants which supply power to Delhi, faced severe coal shortage due to rising cost both in domestic and international market, leading to deficit of 8000 MW of electricity generation. On the other side electricity generation from solar and wind energy stepped up (2). 

Unfortunately Delhi is one of those few states in the country which does not have any policy for alternate sources of energy like wind, solar and biomass. In absence of any policy and plan, state failed to tap solar and biomass energy at the time of peak demand last year. This is most likely to be repeated this year as well.

Despite Delhi reeling under severe power shortage, the budget presented by State Chief Minister did not provide any confidence to the people that similar power crisis would not occur this summer. While no plans for harnessing alternate energy sources were unveiled, overall energy budget was also reduced to half (3).

Even the 12th Five Year Plan of the Delhi Government does not have any provision or plan for the energy sector

“It is a fallacy under which the State’s Chief Minister and her power advisors live, not learning from last year’s electricity crisis,” Pratap added. “Instead of waiting for another electricity crisis to unfold, the State Government should develop a concrete energy plan based on alternate energy sources to infuse confidence among its people,” Pratap concluded.

Note to Editor:

  1. Coal shortages knocked 7.8 billion KWh off NTPC’s capacity utilisation in the past year. Currently there is a dip in production of nearly 20% of the plants operated NTPC due to the severe coal shortage. The affected NTPC power stations include Dadri in National Capital Region, Singrauli, Unchachar, Vindhyachal, Farakka & Kahalgaon which provides 33% of electricity to Delhi.
  2. Central Electricity Authority Annual Report 2012
  3. Budget Speech of Delhi Chief Minister for FY 2013-14

For more details contact:

Abhishek Pratap, Senior Campaigner Greenpeace, Contact details: +91-9845610749

Madhulika Verma, Media Officer, Greenpeace, Contact details: +91-9971137736