Govt bolsters hydro capacity to meet rising peak demand

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Govt bolsters hydro capacity to meet rising peak demand Blog Image

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • Electricity scenario in India
  • Augmentation of Hydro capacity to meet rising peak demand
  • Key highlights
  • Steps need to face the challenges associated with renewable energy

Why in News?

  • With peak power demand set to touch 240 GW in June, the Ministry of Power is relying on hydropower generation to avoid supply shortfall amid poll season demand surge and a hotter-than-usual summer.
  • The Ministry has optimised hydropower generation to make available an additional 4GW capacity. This was weeks after it instructed fifteen imported coal-based and all gas-based thermal plants to be operational during the summer months.

Electricity scenario in India

  • Total Installed Capacity and generation


Image caption: Power Sources - Generation and Installed capacity

o As of March 31, 2024, India's total installed power capacity is 442 gigawatts (GW).

  • This includes 43% renewable energy plants, such as large hydroelectric power plants.

o The total installed capacity is broken down by sector as follows:

  • Central Sector: 102,274.94 MW
  • State Sector: 106,332.93 MW
  • Private Sector: 219,691.40 MW

o As of 31 March 2024, India's electricity generation in 2023-24 was 1731.28 billion units (BU).

  • Ministry had set a target of 1750 BU for 2023-24, which includes: 1324.110 BU thermal, 156.700 BU hydro, 46.190 BU nuclear, 8 BU import from Bhutan, and 215 BU RES (excluding large hydro).

o Details of installed capacity and power generation in the country, categorized by source, can be referred to from the picture above.

  • Peak Demand
    • Peak demand, or peak load, is the highest electrical power demand measured over a certain period of time, which can be annual, daily, or seasonal.
    • Factors that can affect peak demand include: Demography, Economy, Weather, Climate, Season, and Day of the week.
    • India’s peak demand in 2023-24 – 243271 MW.
  • Peak Demand deficit
    • An electricity shortage, or demand deficit, occurs when electricity production and imports are not enough to meet consumption.
    • To manage a shortage, system operators may ration small amounts of energy to some consumers for a short time, while still allowing essential services to continue.
    • For 2023-24, the all-India peak demand was 2,43,271 MW, but only 2,39,931 MW was fulfilled, resulting in a 1.4% deficit.
      • The average gap between Peak demand and Peak supply was 4.5 % in 2013-14 - when the demand was just 136 GW.

Augmentation of Hydro capacity to meet rising peak demand

  • The Ministry of Power said it has optimised hydropower generation to make available an additional 4GW capacity.
  • This is because, power demand is set to touch 240 GW in June and the Ministry wants to avoid supply shortfall.

Key highlights

  • Reliance on coal and gas to meet peak demand is more pronounced
    • India added a record renewable capacity of over 18 GW in FY24.
    • However, the variability in renewable energy generation is putting pressure on base load capacity, including thermal.
      • This is true especially during evening hours of low sunlight and high demand.
    • Additionally, due to the lack of sufficient energy storage infrastructure in the country, India struggles to store excess energy generated by solar and wind plants during non-peak hours and release it during peak hours.
    • Hence, reliance on coal and gas to meet peak demand is more pronounced.
  • India’s peak demand deficit could increase
    • India’s peak demand deficit has fallen considerably in recent years.
    • However, insufficient energy storage infrastructure and rising temperatures could widen the gap moving forward, especially in the summer months.
      • The country is staring at a 14 GW peak shortfall in June, its largest in 14 years, due to delays in commissioning new coal-based plants.
      • In June, demand from agriculture will suddenly come up and the majority of the northern states will start to take power to run pump sets.
  • Hydro-power augmentation
    • The latest move comes in light of hydro generation missing the cumulative target of 12,487 MU (million units) by 1,770 MU in the ongoing FY25 till May 9.
    • With the recent move to augment hydro power generation and forecasts of above-normal monsoon in the coming months, it is expected that the power demand would be adequately met.
  • India as the world’s third largest producer of renewable energy
    • India is the world’s third largest producer of renewable energy, around 40 per cent of installed electricity capacity comes from non-fossil fuel sources.
    • This green push has resulted in a sharp 24 per cent reduction in emission intensity of GDP between 2005 and 2016.
    • However, it has also thrown up challenges in meeting peak demand with a grid being increasingly powered by renewables.

Steps need to face the challenges associated with renewable energy

  • Energy storage is needed alongside green energy sources to primarily balance out the variability in renewable generation.
    • Electricity is generated only when the sun shines or when the wind blows. This is not always in sync with the demand cycle.
    • The India Energy Storage Alliance has estimated the requirement of about 160 GWh of energy storage system by 2030 in a report titled Energy Storage Vision 2030 for India.
  • The renewables challenge is compounded by the fact that SECI (Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd) has locked-in a number of contracts involving green developers in rigid PPAs (power purchase agreements) with no scope for innovation.
    • SECI is the state-owned company conducting solar auctions.
  • To compensate for the intermittency, pumped-storage hydroelectric plants is being seen as the most viable alternative.
    • In such plants, energy is stored in the form of the gravitational potential energy of water.
    • This water is generally pumped from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation reservoir when renewable power is available, which is then released to move a turbine to generate electricity when renewable generation is not available.

Q.1. What is Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI)?

Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) is a Schedule-A CPSE under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for implementation of schemes and development of Renewable Energy projects (Solar, Wind, Hybrid, Round the Clock RE, H2 etc.) etc. in India and abroad.

Q.2. What is India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA)?

India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) is a leading industry alliance focused on the development of advanced energy storage, green hydrogen, and e-mobility technologies in India. Founded in 2012, by Customized Energy Solutions (CES), IESA’s vision is to make India a global hub for R&D, manufacturing, and adoption of advanced energy storage, e-mobility, and green hydrogen technologies.

Source: After coal and gas, govt bolsters hydro capacity to meet rising peak demand

NITI Ayoga


Power Ministry