India’s power demand in the current financial year is likely to increase by 6% compared to the previous financial year as per the data released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). While the total requirement in 2022-23 was around 15,12,918 million units, the requirement in 2023-24 is likely to be 16,00,214 million units.

Among the states, Gujarat’s power demand is expected to rise 6% this year compared to previous year. Similarly, in Maharashtra the requirement is likely to increase 4.2% and in Tamil Nadu 5.4%.

Region wise, Northern region consisting of states and Union Territories like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Punjab, is projected to see an increase of 6.6% compared to the previous year.

In North-East, the requirement is likely to be 1.9 lakh million units which is 6.4% more than the previous fiscal. Southern and Eastern regions are expected to see an increase of 5.5% over last year.

Incidentally, India’s power consumption surged 10% to 1375.57 billion units (BU) during April-February 2022-23, and has already surpassed the level of electricity supplied in the entirety of 2021-22. The CEA data showed that power consumption during April-February 2021-22 was 1245.54 BU.

Experts say power consumption is expected to grow in double digits in the coming months in view of forecasts of unprecedented high demand, especially in summer.

The power ministry has estimated a peak power demand in the country at 229 GW during April this year, which is higher than 215.88 GW recorded in the same month a year ago.

“There are around 51,763MW solar power projects which are likely to start power generation in this financial year. This will add to the overall power capacity, and this source of power will also be clean,” said a senior CEA official.

Similarly, few thermal projects with a total capacity of 7000MW are likely to be commissioned in various states. This will also add to the total power supply in the national grid.

“In order to meet the growing demand of electricity, there is need for addition of fresh generation capacity. As per draft National Electricity Plan for the period 2022-27 which is under approval, an investment of about Rs 14.54 lakh crore would be required to install additional generation capacity of about 210 GW during 2022-27 along with battery storage of 8680MW,” said the official.

The Coal ministry has asked all imported coal-based power plants to run on full capacity from March 16, 2023, to June 15, 2023. Besides, it has asked other thermal power generators to import coal for blending with domestic dry fuel.

Experts say higher economic activities would boost commercial and industrial demand in the coming months. Besides, they opine that the scorching heat during summer would result in higher consumption of power for running air conditioners and other cooling appliances. They are of the view that it would be a challenge to meet unprecedented high demand of electricity in India from April onwards.

“We expect the demand to increase this year as after two years of Covid, this year, all companies, offices, establishments are expected to work to their full capacity. In summer, use of air conditioners in offices, houses, etc will increase the demand,” said the official.

The Power Ministry has instructed NTPC to operate its 5,000 MW gas-based power stations during April and May. Other entities will add 4,000 MW of gas-based power capacity during the summer.

All hydropower plants have been directed to work with Regional Load Despatch Centres and State Load Despatch Centres to optimise water usage in the current month for better availability in the future.

The ministry said some new coal-based plants would be commissioned by the end of this month, with an additional capacity of 2,920 MW. Two thermal power units at Barauni, Bihar (2 x 110 MW) will also be available during the period.

Apart from thermal and hydro projects which are in the pipeline, Nuclear Power Plants of 8,700 MW of capacity are under construction and 7000 MW of Nuclear power plants have been accorded sanction, said the official.

Till February 2023, all nuclear plants with a total capacity of 6380MW have generated 41814 million units. Out of the total 41,814 MU, two units at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu with capacity of 1000MW each have generated 12,707 million units or 30% of the total nuclear power generation.

As part of the strategy, power utilities have been instructed to conduct maintenance for coal-based power plants well in advance to avoid scheduled maintenance during the crunch period.

Under Section-11 of the Electricity Act, directions have already been issued to all imported coal-based plants to operate at full capacity starting from March 16, 2023. Adequate coal supplies would be provided to coal-based power plants.

In Tamil Nadu, the North Chennai third unit with a capacity of 800MW is likely to be commissioned in September. “We have finished tests to check the power generation and we are satisfied with the results. Beyond this, we need to do some more tests and by September the unit will be able to start supplying power,” said Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) chairman Rajesh Lakhani.

The power demand in the country has been increasing at close to 10% each year. According to CEA estimates, the energy demand in April 2023 is expected to be 142,097 MU, the highest in 2023, before decreasing to 141,464 MU in May 2023, and declining further to 117,049 MU by November.

On the transmission side, the capacity of National Grid is being expanded on a continuous basis commensurate with the growth in electricity generation and electricity demand.

It is planned to add about 17,500 km of transmission lines and 80,000 MVA of transformation capacity per year (220 kV and above voltage level) on an all India basis, said the official. The present inter-regional capacity of the National Grid is 1,12,250 MW and is likely to go up to about 1,50,000 MW by 2030.

The government has set a target to achieve 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030. As of February, 2023, India’s total installed solar capacity is around 64.4 GW. During the same period, India’s total installed wind capacity is around 42 GW.

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