SINGAPORE, Sept 4 (Reuters) – India has increased its use of coal to generate electricity to prevent outages caused by low hydropower generation, and to keep pace with record electricity demand due to a surge in renewables. have to fight for.
It is unusual for electricity use to rise in India in August, when temperatures are lower due to the annual monsoon that runs between June and September. Demand typically peaks in May, when Indians run air conditioners to beat the heat, and industries operate without rain-related disruptions.
However, the driest August in more than a century resulted in electricity generation rising to a record 162.7 billion kilowatt hours (units), a Reuters analysis of data from federal grid operator Grid India showed.
The share of coal in electricity generation rose to 66.7% in August, the highest for the month in six years, according to a Reuters analysis of government data. Due to less rainfall, the share of hydropower in total generation decreased to 14.8%, from 18.1% in the same period last year.
The government has repeatedly defended the use of coal, citing lower per capita emissions compared to wealthier countries and increasing renewable energy generation.
Despite higher demand for coal, power plants have slashed imports by 24% to 17.85 million metric tonnes during the first four months of the fiscal year ending March 2024, government data showed, adding to state-run coal production. India (COAL.NS) led by a 10.7% increase.
Lower imports have kept global thermal coal prices down in recent months after China, the world’s second-biggest importer of the polluting fuel.
Analysts and industry executives believe farmers are using more electricity to irrigate fields because of insufficient rain, intermittent use of renewable energy and rising cooling demand coupled with warmer-than-normal temperatures.
Power analytics firm EMA Solutions said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday, “Given the already strained supply situation as agricultural demand increased due to a poor monsoon in August, the sudden drop in wind generation has further exacerbated the situation.” messed it up.”
Grid India data shows that India’s peak demand – the maximum capacity required during any time of the day – rose to a record 243.9 gigawatts (GW) on August 31, which is 7.3 GW more than the available capacity.
The data showed that power supply fell short of demand by 780 million units in August, the highest shortfall since April 2022, when India faced its worst power cut in six-and-a-half years.
Weather officials expect rainfall across the country in September to be in line with the long-term average, which is likely to bring some relief to utility operators.
The share of coal in generation rose to 74.2% in the eight months ended August from 72.9% in the same period last year and is on track for a third consecutive annual increase, Grid India data showed. Hydro’s share fell from 10.9% to 9.2%.
Total electricity generation is expected to increase by more than 108 billion units this year, which dwarfs the increase in renewable generation by about 16 billion units.
India failed to meet the target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, and has since said it plans to increase non-fossil capacity – solar and wind power, nuclear and hydropower, and bio-power – to 500 GW. Will try to increase it. 2030.
Achieving that target would require more than 43 GW of non-fossil capacity each year, which is nearly three times the average non-fossil capacity addition over the past two years through July.
Reporting by Sudarshan Vardhan; Editing by Robert Birsel
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