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India Braces for Record Power Shortfall Amid Hydropower Slump

India is gearing up to tackle its most significant power deficit in 14 years this June, propelled by a decline in hydropower generation, according to government sources. With projections indicating a shortfall of 14 GW during nighttime hours, the nation's power sector faces a critical challenge, necessitating urgent measures to avert potential outages.

The impending deficit is exacerbated by delays in commissioning 3.6 GW of new coal-fired plants, originally slated for operation before March. The situation underscores the critical importance of addressing both supply and demand-side constraints to ensure grid stability.

Recognizing the severity of the situation, Power Minister R.K. Singh convened an emergency meeting to assess the crisis and implement mitigation strategies. Measures include deferring scheduled maintenance of power plants during June and reactivating 5 GW of dormant coal plant capacity, aimed at bolstering overall generation capacity.

Grid administrator Grid-India forecasts a peak nighttime demand of 235 GW in June, underscoring the magnitude of the challenge ahead. While thermal capacity stands at approximately 187 GW, renewable sources contribute an additional 34 GW, offering some relief amid the looming shortfall.

The power ministry's invocation of emergency measures, directing gas-based and imported coal-based plants to operate at full capacity, underscores the gravity of the situation. However, the power sector's reliance on coal underscores the ongoing transition challenges as India strives to balance energy security with environmental sustainability.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration has made strides in transitioning towards cleaner energy sources, but the recent focus on coal underscores the complexities inherent in managing India's energy transition. Plans for new coal power plants have garnered momentum, albeit amid growing pressure to curb coal use and accelerate the adoption of renewables.

While existing coal-fired and solar plants will play a crucial role in meeting daytime demand, concerns persist regarding long-term energy security and environmental sustainability.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • DoRight Deikins on May 09 2024 said:
    While supply is the one side of the equation, demand is perhaps the more important side. Much of populated India, especially along the coasts, is hot and humid. 50 years ago it wasn't much of a problem, but with increased urban sprawl (and the ensuing spread of heat storing concrete and far less foliage), housing less capable of being comfortable with ventilation, and most importantly, the rise of expectations of the middle class, it is the predominant side of the equation.

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