The Ministry of Power (MoP) has devised a multi-pronged strategy to ensure adequate availability of power during the upcoming summer months. As part of the strategy, the power utilities have been directed to undertake maintenance for coal-based power plants well in advance so that no planned maintenance is required during the crunch period. Directions have already been issued under section 11 to all imported coal-based plants to run at full capacity from March 16, 2023. Adequate coal stocks would be made available at the coal-based power plants. During the meeting, the Member Railway Board assured availability of enough rakes for transport of coal. The Ministry of Railways agreed to provide 418 rakes to different subsidiaries of CIL, GSS and captive blocks and also enhance the number of rakes in due course so that sufficient coal stock can be maintained at power plants.
Gas-based power will be used to meet any peak demand. MoP has directed NTPC to run its 5000 MW gas-based power stations during the crunch period in April to May. In addition, 4,000 MW of additional gas based power capacity would be added by other entities for availability during the summer months. GAIL has already assured the Ministry of Power of the necessary supply of gas during the summer months. All the hydro plants have been instructed to operate in consultation with RLDCs/ SLDCs (Regional/State Load Dispatch Centers) to optimise water utilisation in the current month for better availability during the next month. An additional capacity of 2920 MW would be available through new coal-based plants which would be commissioned by the end of this month. In addition, after direction from the Ministry, two units at Barauni (2X110MW) will be made available during crunch period.
During the meeting, the union power minister Mr RK Singh asked power companies to ensure that there is no load-shedding during the summer months. The minister asked all stakeholders to closely monitor the situation and take proactive actions to meet the electricity demand during the coming months. The minister also asked the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) to ensure that a fair and transparent mechanism is devised for allocation of coal to various states or UTs.
As per estimates of the CEA, the peak electricity demand is expected to be 229 GW during the months of April 2023, when the electricity demand is highest in the country. The demand then tapers off as monsoon season picks up from the southern part of the country and covers the whole country over the next 3 to 4 months. With GDP growing at close to 7 per cent, the power demand has been growing in the country at close to 10 per cent per annum. As per estimates, the energy demand is expected to be 142,097 MU during April 2023, highest in the year 2023.