As Electricity Demand Soars, Wind and Hydro Come to the Rescue
An acceleration in wind speeds in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu before the onset of the first monsoons is helping meet electricity demand across India, two government officials with knowledge of the development said.
With rising water levels in reservoirs due to rains and high wind speeds over the past 15 days, Karnataka is meeting over 60% of its electricity demand from power sources. renewables and sells excess wind power to neighboring states. This in turn has freed up its coal-fired power generation capacity to meet demand in other parts of the country.
Similarly, Tamil Nadu plans to switch to renewables to meet much of its electricity needs from May 21, based on an assessment that suggests favorable weather conditions and predictable wind conditions. Additionally, with 1 gigawatt (GW) of hydropower expected to come from the Bhakra Dam in Himachal Pradesh, there could be some short-term respite from the current energy crisis in the country.
“With the wind speed picking up ahead of an expected early monsoon, there has been some relief to meet electricity demand. There is also a recovery in hydroelectric generation,” said one of the officials cited above on condition of anonymity.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted an early onset of the southwest monsoon. He tweeted on Sunday: “The South West Monsoon is likely to advance in the Southern Andaman Sea, Nicobar Islands and adjacent South Eastern Bay of Bengal over the next 24 hours. Usually, the monsoon covers the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on May 22 and reaches Kerala on June 1.
The peak electricity demand satisfied on Sunday was 191.25 GW, according to state-owned Power System Operation Corp Ltd (Posoco) which oversees the country’s critical electric load management functions. India recorded a record peak power demand of 207.111 GW and a peak power shortage of 10.77 GW on April 29.
“Karnataka is not using its quota of coal required to supply power stations, but has committed all of its wind turbines to meet shortages and even supply surpluses to neighboring states. Tamil Nadu itself plans to switch a large part of its electricity needs to renewables from May 21,” said the second government official who also declined to be named.
According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the 173 power plants it tracks have a coal stock of 20.74 million tonnes, less than a third of the required stock of 66.49 mt. A total of 80 domestic coal-fired power plants had less than a quarter of their prescribed fuel stock and were at a critical level. In addition, 10 power plants running on imported coal had a critical stock of coal as of May 15.
In addition, 10 factories running on imported coal had a critical coal stock as of May 14.
The Union Ministry of Energy has ordered India’s biggest power lenders – state-run Power Finance Corporation and REC Ltd – to provide loans for six months to power plants coal-fired power plants in financial difficulty to enable them to restart production.
Rituraj Baruah in New Delhi contributed to this story