With the conventional energy projects unable to address the power crisis, 2012 saw the emergence of renewable energy in a big way. The state government announced a new solar policy with a target to set up 3,000 Mw of solar power in three years.
Severe power shortage made chief minister J Jayalalithaa write several letters to the Prime Minister seeking Centre's support to address the issue and also for speedy clearance of projects.
She also flayed public sector Power Grid Corporation (for lack of long-term vision and speedy action to address corridor constrains), BHEL (for not supplying equipment on time) and Coal India (for not giving coal linkages).
Some of the major projects, which were supposed to help the government address the 4,000 Mw shortage, include Vallur, a joint venture between TNEB and NTPC signed in 2002, 2X250 Mw Neyveli Lignite Corporation project at Neyveli, NTPL's 2X500 Mw project at Tuticorin and the 2,000 Mw Kudankulam project. None, however, was up on schedule.
"Normally a thermal project takes at least 36 months to be commissioned. But even after 60 months, projects started by Tamil Nadu was not commissioned due to delays in land acquisition, environment clearance and sourcing of boilers, coal allocation and others" says a senior government official.
NLC's former chairman and managing director AR Ansari says, "We could have easily added 1,500 Mw of power to the grid, but could not because of BHEL. Delay in commissioning a power plant ranges from 45 to 50 months."
Between 2001 and 2010, the state's installed generation capacity went up only by 483 Mw, while the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh increased their supply by more than 2,000 Mw.
Now, the requirement hovers around 11,000Mw making the state dependent on wind power. Tamil Nadu, with an installed capacity of 7,134 Mw as on September 30, was the leading state in wind energy, accounting for almost 40 per cent. During peak wind season, almost 30 per cent of the electricity demand is met through this source.