On 7 July 2021 at around noon, India’s instantaneous power demand touched a historic high of 200 gigawatts (GW), beating the previous all-time high of 197 GW which had been reached only the day before. These two consecutive days of record-breaking peak demand marked a sharp increase from the high of 190 GW in financial year (FY) 2020-21, seen just six months ago.
This spike in India’s instantaneous demand, especially peaking during the day instead of in the evening, has got the country’s power industry thinking about India’s changing daily load profile and utilizing solar generation to meet day-time peak demands.
The strong electricity generation seen in the beginning of 2021-22 dipped in May and June when many states were in lockdown due to the second wave of COVID-19. As the restrictions eased towards the end of June, electricity generation picked up and then saw a strong recovery in July. The following figure compares year-to-day electricity demand with that of 2019 (ignoring the anomalously low demand in 2020 due to the economic lockdown).
In our view, the record high demand – aggregate as well as peak – on 7 July could be strongly linked to high temperatures in North India increasing the use of air conditioners, a spurt of commercial activity and the catching up of pent-up industrial demand following the lifting of lockdowns.
In fact, on 7 July the demand in North India reached 99.4% of the peak demand (75GW) it had set five days earlier on 2 July. The northern states of Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh, and the north-eastern states of Sikkim and Manipur all had record energy consumption levels that day.
Rising power demand will not be a concern for keeping India’s lights on.