India’s peak power demand touches all-time high this week

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Photo by Fre Sonneveld on Unsplash

India’s peak power demand touched 1,82,888 mega-watt (MW) mark on 30 December — an all-time high — marking the reversal of the trend of tepid growth in energy demand during the pandemic and signalling a spurt in commercial and industrial activities. This peak demand breached the previous high of 1,82,610 MW recorded on May 30, 2019, power secretary Sanjiv Nandan Sahai said on Twitter. “The entire demand was met,” Sahai added.

The record peak demand was reached at 9:48 AM on Wednesday. The rise in demand is a good news for power producers, as owing to lower consumption, electricity generation from thermal power plants in April-October was 8.3 per cent lower than corresponding period last year.

According to data from the power ministry, the peak power demand met (the highest supply in a day) during December last year stood at 170.49 gigawatts (GW).

The installed power generation capacity of 3,74,199 MW in the country is more than twice the peak demand, implying that most power plants are running at low capacity utilisation. Plant load factor of coal-based power plants fell to 50 per cent in the first half of FY21 from 58 per cent a year ago.

Peak demand reflects the highest power requirement level reached at a particular moment, and is different from actual consumption volumes. Power consumption in the country fell 8.5 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) to 625.6 billion units (BU) in the first half of the fiscal as industrial and commercial activities remained muted amid lockdowns imposed across the nation to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Though power consumption increased annually for the third consecutive month in November, the April-November demand was still 5 per cent lesser than same period last year. Lower electricity volumes consumed by highly industrialised states in FY20 had dragged down the country’s annual demand growth to a six-year low of 1.3 per cent.

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