Soaring temperatures across India might trigger energy crunch this summer
The scorching temperatures in parts of India in recent weeks have reportedly pushed electricity demand to unprecedented levels, raising concerns about a potential strain on the power supply this summer. In January, the peak electricity demand reportedly touched 211 gigawatts, which is close to the record-high demand from last summer when people endured blistering temperatures that broke a 122-year-old record.
Why does this story matter?
- Since the start of February, northwest India has been reporting an unusual temperature rise ahead of the summer.
- The Power Ministry, invoking its emergency powers under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, instructed imported coal-based energy plants on Monday to operate at full capacity for three months from March 16.
- As per the ministry, power demands are set to peak in April.
Energy demand might hit new high in April: Ministry
According to the Power Ministry, energy demand might hit a new high of 229 gigawatts in April. Energy stations using imported coal have been instructed to function at full capacity to ease the pressure on domestic coal supplies and help avoid blackouts. Coal accounts for over 70% of India's electricity generation, but stockpiles at stations are currently under the set 45 million ton target.
Know about Power Ministry's notification to ICB plants
"To ensure availability of electricity to meet the anticipated demand, the generation from ICB (imported coal-based) plants need to be increased," a notification from the Power Ministry was quoted as saying by the news outlet The Economic Times. "All ICB power plants shall operate and generate power to their full capacity," it further instructed power stations.
India aims to have 50% non-fossil fuel capacity: Modi
Earlier in February, PM Narendra Modi claimed that India's renewable energy capacity has increased from 70 gigawatts to nearly 170 gigawatts, while solar power grew by 20 times. Modi also said that the country was ranked fourth in wind power capacity. "We are aiming to have 50% non-fossil fuel capacity by the end of this decade," he said at the India Energy Week 2023.
Electricity demand may rise 20-30% from last summer: Rajasthan minister
In India, Rajasthan is a hub of solar energy but might face hardships in ensuring adequate power supplies during the summer if there is a delay in receiving coal from mines in other parts. "The electricity demand may rise 20% to 30% compared to last summer. There's no other option than to cut power supply," Rajasthan Power Minister Bhanwar Singh Bhati recently said.
Temperatures 11 degrees Celsius above normal in India
This unusual early onset of hotter weather and forecasts that power consumption will spike raise concerns that the country's energy network will face new strain after two consecutive years of disruptions. Temperatures have been almost 11 degrees Celsius above normal in some parts in recent weeks, triggering the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to ask farmers to inspect their crops for symptoms of heat stress.
IMD director general gives insight into upcoming summer heat
However, as per IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, the current temperature spike is not necessarily a signal of an extremely severe summer between March and May this year. "It is natural to be excited if you get temperatures like this in the month of February," Mohapatra was quoted as saying by the news outlet NDTV.
India to experience heatwave in March: Report
Amid the weak western disturbances and subsequent less rainfall, northwest India has reported a rise in temperature this February. Earlier this week, the IMD also sounded an alarm regarding an early heatwave in parts of Maharashtra, Kutch, and Konkan. Furthermore, Skymet Weather on Wednesday reported that a heatwave is possible during the first week of March.