None of the government agencies publicly share any data related to the number of operating diesel generator sets (gensets) in India. However, data sourced through industry sources shows that diesel power generator sets capacities have risen at a rate of around 5,000 megawatts (MW) per annum in the last two years in the country.
According to data sourced through its internal research, private power producer Tata Power said capacity of diesel gensets is estimated to stand at 90,000 MW as on 2016-end, from 80,000 MW in 2014.
Increase in capacity is rather surprising as the past three years have seen the government focusing on increasing power supply in the country, besides witnessing a surplus condition in some scenarios. To be sure, the power exchanges in the country or the spot market for power have been trading at cheaper rates, as compared to their performace a few years back. On Friday, Power Minister Piyush Goyal took to social media platform Twitter and said that around 4,396 megawatts of power was available at rate of Rs. 2.59 per unit for states.
Industry experts attribute the rise in diesel gensets to the largely erratic and uneven power supply in the country, besides issues faced at the transmission and distribution level.
"Diesel generator sets are operated only for a short period of time during the day and are used as a back-up power supply," said Ashok Sethi, chief operating officer and executive director for Tata Power.
"The rise is not surprising as generator sets are a solution for erratic power. Unless, the country moves towards reliable power supply and solves the transmission and distribution related issues, this trend will continue," said an industry official who did not wish to be identified. Power demand deficit peaked at 0.8% or 1,197 MW in April due to erratic power supply in the country.
Another industry consultant added that the increasing number of new factories and buildings in the country may have also contributed to the rising number of diesel-run generators sets as they require a running supply of power for operations.
The estimated figure gains significance when it is juxtaposed with the country's total generating capacity of 3,30,260.53 MW, as per data compiled by Central Electricity Authority (CEA). The total generating capacity, however, does not include the capacity of power generated by diesel-run generator sets.