As temperatures across northwest and central India surpassed the 50-degree Celsius mark with Delhi recording its highest ever mark of 52.9 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, demand for summer centric products, air conditioners and desert coolers surged due to a higher need for cooling leading to an unprecedented power requirement.

With mercury scaling an alltime high, the national capital clocked a record peak power demand of 8,302 megawatts (MW), higher than the projected demand of 8,200 MW. It was the 12th consecutive day for Delhi’s demand to cross the 7,000 MW mark.

However, Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju said that such temperature is “very unlikely”.

The weatherman said “heat wave to severe heat wave” conditions prevailed over many parts of Rajasthan, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi, Uttar Pradesh; in some parts of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab. Heat wave conditions prevailed in some parts of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Vidarbha.

Sources said all India peak power demand met during the day was likely to be in the range of 237-240 GW on Wednesday.

Urban warming

Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) Senior Programme Lead Vishwas Chitale said a recent study suggests that Indian cities are warming at almost twice the rate of the rest of the country due to the compounding factors of climate change and urbanisation.

“The impact we are witnessing is multifaceted, which include water scarcity and record-breaking power demand. To adapt to these conditions, it is imperative that our heat action plans shift from a response-centric to a preparedness-centric approach, mapping granular-level heat risks to help administrators prioritise health interventions,” he added.

ACs, ice-creams

Mother Dairy Managing Director Manish Bandlish explained that ongoing heat wave conditions in the northern region has led to significant increase in demand for all summer centric products including ice creams, dairy beverages and curd.

“These categories are witnessing an uptick in demand by over 40 per cent in the last 14-15 days,” he added.

“We have seen a growth of over 50 per cent in sales in May y-o-y much higher than anticipated. Overall in the June quarter, we now anticipate to register growth of 60-70 per cent y-o-y in sales,” said Blue Star MD B Thiagarajan.

Baskin Robbins India Deputy General Manager (Digital Sales) Ayush Agrawal added that in the last two weeks the brand has seen a significant uptick in the rate of sales. “The revenue upswing is estimated to be close to 30 per cent over the previous two weeks,” he added.

Power consumption

India’s power demand is rising at around 8 per cent annually due to rising consumption from industrial, commercial and households. Fitch Ratings expects power demand in April-June 2024 to grow 7-8 per cent y-o-y.

In April, power consumption surged by 10.5 per cent y-o-y to 144.3 billion units. Officials said that peak power demand recorded during the month was 224 GW, which was successfully met.

The Ministry expects peak demand to hit 235 GW (day) and 225 GW (evening) during May. In June, the peak is likely at 240 GW (day) and 235 GW (evening).

India’s peak power demand has been inching up consistently during May. Since May 11, India’s peak power demand met during the day averaged at 215 GW.

Peak demand hit a record 240 GW on May 24, but fell to 233.98 GW a day later and 222.11 GW on May 26. However, the usage again rose to 232.62 GW and 237.95 GW on May 27 and May 28, respectively.

Government sources said that high demand is also being experienced in the evening hours when solar power is also not available. This leads to more pressure on thermal power plants (TPPs).