Peak power demand in the country crossed the 2,00,000 mega watt (MW) mark for the first time on Wednesday, surpassing the previous all-time high of 1,97,060 MW recorded just a day ago. Union power minister RK Singh said on Twitter that the highest demand level was touched at 12:01 hours.
Peak demand reflects the highest power requirement level reached at a particular moment. According to IIT-Kanpur’s Energy Analytics Lab, 67% of the load was met by thermal power plants when demand was at its peak, while 16% was supplied by renewable power sources. Hydro power plants contributed another 14% and gas and nuclear units catered to the remaining demand at that time.
The share of renewable was higher because the demand peaked at a suitable time for solar units. On Tuesday, solar and wind cumulatively contributed 7.5% of the 4,470 million units (MUs) of electricity supplied in the country. Higher power demand signals a spurt in commercial and industrial activities with businesses gradually resuming operations after the lifting of lockdown curbs in recent months. The domestic demand has also increased due to higher use of cooling devices amid rising temperatures.
The rise in demand is good news for power producers, as thermal power plants were running at only 54% utilisation level in May owing to lower consumption. The installed power generation capacity of 3,83,373 MW in the country is nearly twice the peak demand level, implying that most power plants are running at the low plant load factor (PLF). The PLF of thermal power plants fell to 48% in May 2020. Electricity consumption increased 6.6% year-on-year to 108.8 billion units in May, but was still lower than the 120 BU consumed in May 2019 when there was no impact of the coronavirus.