The power ministry has claimed in the a press statement that a multi-pronged strategy has been devised to ensure adequate availability of power during the upcoming summer months. The power minister R.K. Singh chaired a review meeting on Tuesday, the March 7, 2023, with senior officers from power sector, coal ministry and railways.
According to the statement, detailed discussions took place on various aspects to meet the high electricity demand in the upcoming months especially between April and May.
As part of the strategy, power utilities have been directed to undertake maintenance for coal-based power plants well in advance so that no planned maintenance is required during the crunch period. Directions have already been issued under section-11 to all imported coal-based plants to run at full capacity from March 16, 2023. Adequate coal stocks would be made available at the coal-based power plants.
During the meeting, member Railway Board assured availability of enough rakes for transportation of coal. The the rail ministry agreed to provide 418 rakes to different subsidiaries of CIL, GSS and captive blocks and also enhance the number of rakes in due course so that sufficient coal stock can be maintained at power plants.
Gas-based power would be used to meet any peak demand. The ministry has directed NTPC to run its 5,000 MW gas-based power stations during the crunch period in Apr-May. In addition, 4,000 MW of additional gas-based power capacity would be added by other entities for availability during the summer months.
GAIL has already assured the power ministry of the necessary supply of gas during the summer months. All the hydro plants have been instructed to operate in consultation with Regional and State Load Dispatch Centers to optimise water utilisation in current month for better availability during the next month.
An additional capacity of 2,920 MW would be available through new coal-based plants which would be commissioned by the end of this month. In addition, after direction from the Ministry, two units at Barauni (2X110MW) will be made available during crunch period.
During the meeting, the power companies were instructed to ensure that there is no load-shedding during the summer months, besides closely monitoring the situation with all stakeholders and take proactive actions to meet the electricity demand during the coming months. The minister also asked CEA to ensure that a fair and transparent mechanism is devised for allocation of coal to various States and Union Territories.
As per estimates of the Central Electricity Authority, the peak electricity demand is expected to be 229 GW during April, when the electricity demand is highest in the country. The demand then tapers off as monsoon season picks up from the southern part of the country and covers the whole country over the next three to four months. The power demand has been growing in the country at close to 10% per annum. As per estimates, the energy demand is expected to be 1,42,097 MU during April, highest in the year 2023 before reducing to 1.41,464 MU in May and further declining continuously to 1,17,049 MU during November.