Power Ministry will review the peak power demand and supply projections in the National Electricity Plan (NEP) as changing climatic patterns, leading to growing instances of heat waves and humidity levels in the last few years, have led to a significant uptick in India’s electricity consumption.

Speaking at a CII event on Tuesday, Power Secretary Pankaj Agarwal pointed out that peak power demand has witnessed a “sharp” increase in several States in the last two years. 

“Already, we have been receiving feedback that our estimate of 384 GW may be an underestimate. That might be easily crossed. What we will need is 900 GW of total installed capacity by 2031-32,” he added. Agarwal projected that peak demand could surpass 400 GW by 2032.

Later, speaking to reporters on the sidelines, Agarwal said, “We projected our FY32 peak demand as 384 GW. In the last few years, we have witnessed a sharp increase. This year, in terms of megawatt, it is already up over 9 per cent and in terms of million units it is already up about 11 per cent, if we compare Q1 FY25 with Q1 FY24. We are now working on projections. Some States have already updated (their projections) and very shortly we will be updating our NEPs,” he added.

In May 2023, the Central Electricity Authority notified the NEP (Vol-I Generation) for the period 2022-32.

Climate change

The year 2024 has been an exceptional year in terms of weather-related energy consumption. April-June was marked by sweltering temperatures coupled with intense heat waves across North India leading to a higher requirement for pushing up electricity demand.

During April 2024, power consumption rose 11 per cent year on year, while the growth in May was steeper at 15 per cent. In June, the usage rose roughly 9 per cent.

The constantly-evolving weather patterns have skewed the government’s electricity demand projections. For instance, the Ministry projected a peak demand (day) of 235 GW during May, but it hit an all-time high of 250 GW on May 30. The projection for June was 240 GW, but the demand went up to over 245 GW.

Similarly, peak demand of 243 GW during September 2023 came as a surprise as it was not during the Summer months but at the end of the monsoon period, with high heat and humidity leading to more demand for cooling. In 2024, projections put September’s peak at 260 GW.

Expert views

Sector experts and analysts have welcomed the move.

Council on Energy, Environment and Water Senior Programme Lead Disha Agarwal told businessline, “As a country, we need to understand our demand well. We don’t have as such a strong understanding on how our demand is evolving and what sectors are likely to contribute significantly and by how much, particularly in terms of medium and long term projections.”

Citing examples, she said that the farm sector is experiencing changes in consumption patterns because the country is trying to meet agriculture demand during the day, which means that demand will shift from night to day. Accordingly, the government and planning entities will have to examine the resultant implications of these shifts that are happening on the supply side.

Arindam Ghosh, Partner - Power Advisory at Nangia & Co, said, “I agree that assessing the overall capacity requirement is essential, but it’s equally vital to analyse the mix of power plants — both scheduled and intermittent. This analysis should address varying levels of demand on monthly, weekly, daily and hourly bases, including seasonal variations. Such granularity is crucial for ensuring grid stability and reliable power supply.”

In a recent policy brief, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) said that over 75 per cent of India’s coastline is susceptible to extreme weather events like cyclones and tsunamis, the most vulnerable being the eastern coastal States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.

CDRI pointed out that climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of catastrophic events. These extreme weather events severely affect critical infrastructure, including power systems, transportation networks, healthcare facilities and water supply systems.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in a recent brief on Delhi weather highlighted a marked increase in the number of very hot and humid days, using 30°C Wet Bulb Temperature (WBT) as a threshold.