Power Ministry on Tuesday said that it is taking comprehensive measures to ensure adequate power supply as north India sizzles under searing temperatures and intense heat waves pushing Monday’s peak electricity demand (day) to over 240 gigawatts (GW) and record 223.67 GW (evening).

Monday’s (June 17) peak power demand during the day and evening was the highest so far for the month. The peak electricity demand during the evening hours on June 17 was also the highest so far in the current summer season.

Delhi recorded its highest power demand met on Tuesday at 8.65 GW, higher than the projected 8.2 GW. Last week, the national capital faced power outages due to a fire incident at Mandola sub-station leading to state’s Power Minister Atishi seeking a meeting with Union Power Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Khattar reviewed the performance of hydro power sector on Tuesday as monsoon rains advance further into India. However, S&P Global Commodity Insights warned that depleting hydroelectricity output amid irregular rainfall in FY24 has led to a lower water level in India’s primary reservoirs, which could further reduce hydro power generation during summers.

Searing heat and power supply

North India has been experiencing high power demand due to prevailing heat wave since May 17,Power Ministry said, adding that despite challenges, the highest ever peak demand of 89 GW was met  successfully on June 17.

On June 17, daily consumption by domestic coal based (DCB) plants rose to its highest in June so far to around 2.56 million tonnes (mt). Daily receipts of domestic coal on the day was around 2.29 mt. On the same day, stocks at DCB plants stood at 44.47 mt.

Record high temperatures have already pushed India’s power consumption up by around 15 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in May 2024 to over 156 billion units.

“This achievement was made possible by importing 25-30 per cent of the region’s power requirement from neighbouring regions. All utilities have been advised to maintain a high state of alert and minimise forced outages of equipment. According to the IMD forecast, heat wave conditions in North-West India are expected to abate from June 20,” it added.

In response to the increased demand and to ensure adequate power availability across the country, the Ministry has implemented a series of measures, including running gas-based and imported coal based power plants at optimum capacity, to meet the highest ever peak demand of 250 GW during this ongoing summer season, it said.

Shortage continues

However, analysts and power sector experts said that even though the Ministry has done a “commendable job” with respect to power supply, peak shortage and generation outage needs to be checked.

For instance, India’s peak power demand met on June 16 (Sunday) stood at 231.16 GW (day) and 214.04 GW (evening), while the generation outage crossed 40 GW, which is the third highest since May 2024.

Similarly, on June 15, the country’s peak power demand stood at 238.96 GW (day) and 220.26 GW (evening), while peak shortage shot up to 2.012 GW, which is the second highest since May. On June 17, the country’s peak shortage stood at 1.84 GW, the third highest since May 2024. Peak shortage on Monday was witnessed in UP (188 MW) and Bihar (273 MW).

In the last 10 days, ending June 17, peak power demand during the day and in evening averaged at 231.38 GW and 216.75 GW, respectively. Average Peak shortage and generation outage averaged at 6.21 GW and 32.49 GW, respectively.

“The first half of 2024 could potentially show stronger coal imports than the second half amid a likely lower hydro power generation because of the impact of El Nino,” S&P Commodity Insights Senior Analyst (Global Power and Renewables) Pat See Khoo said.