This produces either steam power or electric power which can then be used to drive machinery. Power development in India commenced at the end of the 19th century with the commissioning of electricity supply in Darjeeling during 1897, followed by commissioning of a hydro-power station at Sivasamudram in Karnataka during 1902.
In the pre-independence era, the power supply was mainly in the private sector that too restricted in urban areas. Development of electricity was very low and confined to a few areas in the country before independence.
The Tata Hydroelectric Grid in Maharashtra, the Methur Scheme in Tamil Nadu, the Siva Samundram Scheme in Karnataka, the Upper Ganga Canal Power Stations in Uttar Pradesh and the Mandi Scheme in Himachal Pradesh were the only few worth mentioning hydro-electric schemes in the country before 1947. The thermal power stations were of small size and constructed only near large cities.
The Electricity (supply) Act was enacted in 1948. With the formation of State Electricity Boards in various parts of five year plans, a significant step was taken in bringing about systematic growth of power supply industry.
After Independence, India has made huge investments in the energy sector since 1950-51. A number of multi purpose projects came into being and with the setting up of thermal, hydro and nuclear power stations, power generation started increasing significantly.
There are five major sources of power, viz., water, coal, oil, gas and radioactive elements like uranium, thorium and plutonium. Electricity generated from the water is known as hydro-electricity. Coal, oil and gas are sources of thermal power. Atomic energy is generated from uranium, thorium, and plutonium. Recently new sources of power have been developed e.g. solar energy, geothermal energy.
Electricity is generated by using different fuels, such as burning coal or petroleum, or disintegrating nuclear minerals, or the force of falling water. There are several advantages to using electricity over coal or petroleum. Electricity in MW represents capacity, electricity generation represents supply of power over a period of time and is measured in terms of units.
The installed capacity of power plants in the country as on 13.4.2012 is 200287 MW including 22.253 MW from Renewable energy sources. The gross generation in the country during 2011-12 (UP to February 2012) including import from Bhutan was 811 billion units.
There has been a record capacity addition of 53922 MW till date during the 11th five year plan out of which 19459 MW has been added in. 2011-12 financial year. The highest ever capacity addition in a single year.
The capacity addition in the 11th plan is close to the total cumulative achievement of 56617 MW in last years from 3 plans that is 8th to 10th plan. 75785 MW is planned for addition in 12th plan. For addition there are 5 projects 1885 MW which are already synchronized and expected to be commissioned shortly. These projects are Bhusawal unit-5, parichha Kassaipaalli, Balco.
The eastern region of the country has a comparative advantage in coal-fired plants and in hydel generation. This emphasises the need for a national power grid, which can transport this electricity form producing regions in the east to customers elsewhere in the country.
The present inter-regional connectors are capable of transferring 5,700 MW. This is slated for augmentation to 30.000 MW by year 2012. The Electricity Act, 2003 has been enacted and the provisions of this Act (except section 121) have been brought into force from 10 June 2003. With the coming into force of the Electricity Act, 2003, the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, Electricity (Supply) Act 1948 and Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act 1998 stand repeatled.