Energy

India’s non-fossil fuel contribution peak: It’s a seasonal trend

The share of electricity sourced from non-fossil-fuels usually peaks during the summer season

 
By Ashish George
Published: Monday 14 September 2020
The power generation for August 2020 was 13 per cent lower on a yearly basis. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The demand for electricity in India has seen a surge since the lockdown to curb the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak was lifted three months ago.

Power generation for August 2020, however, was 13 per cent lower on year-on-year basis. About one-third came from non-fossil fuel based energy sources. 

Sanjiv Sahai, secretary, Union Ministry of Power, tweeted

Electricity generation in India follows a seasonal pattern. The share of electricity sourced from non-fossil-fuels — including renewable energy, hydro energy and nuclear energy — usually peaks during the summer season, especially the monsoon months.

India’s electricity generation in the past year

 

Fossil Fuel

Non-fossil Fuel

Total Generation (MU)

 

Thermal (in %)

RE (in %)

Nuclear (in %)

Hydro* (in %)

July 2019

70.8

12.2

3.5

13.5

123,467

Aug

67.7

11.0

3.6

17.7

119,351

Sep

69.2

7.8

3.7

19.3

114,098

Oct

75.2

6.0

4.1

14.7

105,259

Nov

78.8

7.2

3.8

10.2

100,944

Dec

79.9

8.2

3.4

8.4

108,000

Jan 2020

81.0

8.1

3.1

7.8

112,079

Feb-20

81.2

8.2

2.9

7.7

110,037

Mar-20

78.6

8.9

3.8

8.7

105,416

Apr-20

74.0

10.3

4.3

11.5

90,311

May-20

71.7

11.1

3.5

13.6

108,601

Jun-20

69.3

11.2

3.3

16.2

112,774

Jul-20

71.2

9.8

2.8

16.2

120,055

Aug-20

67.3

11.8

3.0

17.9

103,404

Source: Central Electricity Authority online archives; *Includes import from Bhutan

The share of fossil-fuel-based sources dips during the summer months and hovers below 70 per cent. Electricity demand surges in summers which is met by increased generation from hydro-electric plants and supported by renewable energy.

In case of a drop in power demand, the generation from fossil-fuel based plants is restricted, as they have the largest share. Renewables enjoy a ‘must-run’ status in the country, which is also a reason for soaring RE share in the total generation during the last few months.

To ensure an uninterrupted operation of renewables during last few months, the Union government took a host of actions, including the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) instruction to discoms for clearing bills of RE generators. 

          

         India’s electricity generation mix. Data Source: Central Electricity Authority online archives

The figure above shows the changing electricity supply characteristics from July 2019 to August 2020 on a monthly basis.  For August 2020, the share of non-fossil fuel electricity was about 33 per cent, a notch higher than 32 per cent of August 2019. This can be attributed to the reduced overall generation due to COVID-19 slowdown.

The renewable energy generation in August 2020 was 13,874 mega unit (MU) as compared to 13,151 MU in August 2019, which is only a 5.4 per cent increment on a year-on-year assessment.

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