The daily power demand in the country has fallen by a sharp 21% since March 16 with electricity requirement on March 25 being only 2,777 million units (MU), as most parts of the country is under shutdown.
The government has exempted movement of personnel and equipment related to power generation and transmission from country-wide lockdown. According to separate notifications released by the Union ministries of power and renewable energy, exemptions have been granted from “Section 144, nationwide lockdown, or any other such limitations” to enable requisite manpower and ensure uninterrupted operations of power generating stations and electricity transmission networks.
The coal ministry had issued a similar notification on March 23, but coal mining operations had faced interruptions in certain parts of the country even after that. To prevent such issues, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday issued an addendum to its earlier order on the lockdown under the Disaster Management Act, and clarified that coal mining and associated operations are exempted from such restrictions.
To benefit its non-power consumers, Coal India (CIL) has requested the railways to defer loading of rakes for non-power consumers without own unloading systems inside their plants. CIL has also extended the payment date for successful bidders buying through e-auctions. It is also said to be rescheduling e-auctions scheduled during the lockdown period.
All under-construction renewable energy projects will be allowed time extension considering the period of lockdown and the time required for remobilisation of work force, Aanand Kumar, secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said on Twitter.
The MNRE, on March 20, had announced that “delay on account of disruption of the supply chains due to spread of coronavirus in China or any other country” would be seen as a force majeure event. Project developers will not have to pay any penalty for missing commissioning deadlines, if they can prove that consignments got delayed by global restrictions in freight movements stemming from Covid-19.
A force majeure means extraordinary events or circumstance beyond human control. “Restarting the supply chain for materials and mobilising manpower will be a time-consuming affair once the world gets back on its feet, and a blanket extension of 6 months for all under-construction renewable energy projects will go a long way in protecting the industry from the adverse impact of this pandemic,” Sumant Sinha, CMD, ReNew Power, said.
Welcoming the exemption for solar plants, Puneet Goyal, co-founder of SunAlpha Energy, said, “These plants supply power even in situations where conventional power plants like coal and natural gas may not be able to operate due to logistics constraints.”
The daily power demand in the country has fallen by a sharp 21% since March 16 with electricity requirement on March 25 being only 2,777 million units (MU), as most parts of the country is under shutdown. Power usage on March 16 was 3,507 MU.