India’s power demand goes up by 23% in March 2021

According to data from the National Load Despatch Centre, as much as 115.2 billion units (BU) of electricity was supplied in the first 29 days of March, roughly translating into 3.9 BU per day. At this rate, 123.2 BU of electricity will be supplied in March 2021, which is 22.9 per cent higher than the monthly consumption in the same month last year, when the countrywide lockdown was first implemented to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

However, even as electricity demand has recorded an annual rise for the seventh straight month in March, power demand in FY21 is set to drop by 0.8 per cent on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis.

Electricity demand in the April-February period was lower by 2.8 per cent on a y-o-y basis. Power consumption in the country fell 8.5 per cent y-o-y to 625.6 BU in the first half of FY21 as industrial and commercial activities remained muted amid lockdowns. Demand started increasing from September. With the sharp rise in temperatures in northern India, the average daily power demand in the country increased 3.4 per cent annually to 3.7 BU in February.

Electricity usage in states like Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra and West Bengal, where industrial and commercial requirements comprise more than 40 per cent of the demand, grew by 3.9 per cent, 5.5 per cent, 1 per cent and 9.1 per cent, respectively, in February. 

The Covid vaccination programme was rolled out in February, triggering increased economic activities. 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.

Power demand in FY22 should record impressive annual growth as the figures will be compared with the lockdown months when requirement was suppressed. As noted by analysts at India Ratings, the short-term power price at Indian Energy Exchange continued its improving trend on a y-o-y basis, with the prices breaching Rs 4/unit in March, for the first time since October 2018. In February, a 19.5 per cent y-o-y increase in the traded volumes was witnessed in the day-ahead spot market.

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