This summer, India is likely to be experiencing widespread blackouts, according to Kemp

This summer, India is likely to be experiencing widespread blackouts, according to Kemp ...

LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) - India's electricity supply has remained steady over the next four months as rapid demand from air conditioners and refrigeration loads have surpassed the available generation on the network.

According to the National Load Despatch Centre of the Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), India's grid recorded a record load of 200,570 megawatts (MW) on July 7, 2021.

The grid has reported average load values above 195,000 MW since the middle of March, with a peak of 199,584 MW on April 8 - less than 0.5 percent below the previous high.

While the evening peak is peak, where there is no solar power available and supplies are increasing, loads have reached new highs in recent weeks.

Many exceptional high loads have arrived earlier this year, well before the most intense period of summer heat, implying that the grid is in a situation ().

In a symptom of the struggle to meet demand, the grid's frequency has dropped since mid-March, regressing persistently below its target, with longer and more severe excursions.

Chronic under-frequency is a sign the grid cannot meet customer demand and makes planned load-shedding or unplanned blackouts much more likely.

India has a frequency target of 50.00 cycles per second (Hertz), with grid controllers tasked with keeping the network between 49.90 Hz and 50.05 Hz in order to keep the network in good and solid condition.

if the frequency is shorter than 49.2 Hz, grid controls begin to disconnect some loads automatically, according to the results of the analysis of the Indian electricity grid code.

relays in the northern and western directions of the grid are armed to disconnect load automatically if frequency drops too quickly and falls below 49.9 Hz, while relays in the south are armed to begin load shedding at 49.5 Hz.

Since the majority of times, frequency has dropped below target so often in recent weeks it has sometimes emerged the system has been forced to operate according to a much lower informal objective owing to inadequate generation.

Since the middle of March, frequency has risen to just $49.95 Hz, dipping to the lower operating threshold of 49.90 Hz more than 23 percent.

According to POSOCO data, the average frequency fell as low as 49.84 Hz on April 7, and was below the same level for 63% of the day.


Kohl stocks in power companies are still quite low, limiting their capacity to operate coal-fired facilities at their full capacity to meet demand.

Coal stocks are equivalent to less than nine days worth of consumption per grid-connected generators compared to 12 days at the end of April 2021 and 18 days in 2019.

In September 2021, crude scarcity caused widespread power interruptions, but inventories haven't really recovered.

During the traditional winter stock building period, rapid growth in electricity demand ensured fuel consumption kept steady, while high coal prices slowed restocking.

India's rail ministry said on April 12 that coal from domestic mines and import terminals will be prioritized on the rail network till the end of June to try to boost stock exchanges.

The very low level of coal reserves at power facilities during the peak demand period suggests that power shortages will increase or diminish over the next few months.


The present issue is the result of substantial demand as well as supply issues, contrary to widespread blackouts experienced in October last year.

The rapid rise in load from commercial and residential air conditioners, refrigeration, and other loads, boosting electricity consumption at all levels of coal stocking, is pushing India's grid to a higher level.

Temperatures in northern India have been unusually high for the time of year since mid-March, resulting in a rapid increase in electricity demand.

Daily load levels in the seven days focused on April 8 were more than 9% higher than the same period a year earlier.

Since 2020, the government's Bureau of Energy Efficiency has mandated a default setting of 24C for air conditioners sold in India.

Users may override the default, but the government is dependent on inertia to establish 24C as a standard comfort temperature.

As early as March 13, daily temperatures increased above 24C in New Delhi, and power demand has increased since then.

So far this year, hot weather has accumulated 182 cooling degree days, compared to a long-term seasonal average of 99.

Temperatures are expected to continue to climb to a new high at the end of June or beginning of July, reducing electricity demand in the next 2-4 months.

Given the grid is already struggling, it is unlikely to be able to handle higher loads between May and August, making load shedding and other power cuts more or less required during any time of unusually hot weather.

Columns related to the United Kingdom

India's coal and electricity shortages have remained constant (Reuters, November 12)

India's power grid is struggling to meet demand due to coal shortages (Reuters, October 12)

John Kemp, a Reuters market analyst, has expressed his views on the subject.

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