The backbone of India’s electricity supply, coal-fired power plants’ generation, has fallen for the first time in at least 13 years, an ETEnergyworld analysis of publicly available data showed. This comes on the back of increasing renewable energy generation and softening of electricity demand.
The country’s electricity generation from coal power plants declined 3 per cent to 780 Billion Units (BU) during the April-December period of the current financial year (2019-2020) as compared to the generation in the same period last fiscal, according to data sourced from the Central Electricity Authority. This was the first recorded decline in generation from coal plants for the April-December period since 2006-2007.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Global CO2 emission 2019 report published earlier this week noted that in calendar year 2019 India’s coal-fired electricity generation fell for the first time since 1973, which also led to a slight decline in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector during the year.
“Emissions growth in India was moderate in 2019, with CO2 emissions from the power sector declining slightly as electricity demand was broadly stable and strong renewables growth prompted coal-fired electricity generation to fall for the first time since 1973,” IEA said in the report.
Experts are of the opinion that the fall in generation from coal plants is primarily in response to softening of power demand caused by a slowing economy. Also, during the low demand scenario power utilities would rather source from renewable and nuclear plants which have a must-run status as compared to coal-fired power plants, which can be dialled down.
“Demand growth has been muted this year due to GDP growth rate, subdued industrial activity and consumption, impact of monsoon and financial health of power utilities. Supply is based on dispatches of must run renewables and nuclear; variable costs and coal availability.
Based on these factors, the impact is felt by thermal power generation as it is used for balancing the supply requirements,” Sambitosh Mahapatra, Sector Lead, Power and Utilities at Pwc India said.