India power demand growth rate seen nearly doubling in next five years

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FILE PHOTO: A worker repairs power lines on a pole in Kochi

By Sudarshan Varadhan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India expects annual electricity demand to grow at an average of 7.2% over five years ending March 2027, a draft government plan showed, nearly double the growth rate of over 4% seen during the five years to March 2022.

The Central Electricity Authority (CEA), an advisory body to the federal power ministry, said in a draft plan India's power demand would reach 1,874 billion units during the year ending March 2027, compared with over 1,320 billion units in 2021/22.

India would add power generation capacity of 165.3 gigawatts (GW) over five years ending March 2027, most of which would be renewable energy, according to the plan. That would represent a 41% increase from current installed capacity of 404.1 GW.

An economic slowdown followed by the imposition of nationwide lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has slowed the pace of India's power demand growth in recent years.

Despite being the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, India's per capita power demand and emissions are much lower than most Western countries. India, along with China, accounts for a lion's share of global renewable energy addition.

New solar plants would make up 92.6 GW and wind power would make up 25 GW, while coal-fired capacity already under construction would account for 25.8 GW and nuclear plants for another 7 GW, the CEA said.

India will also retire 11 coal-fired plants with a combined capacity of 4.62 GW over five years ending March 2027, the government said.

Coal would still remain the mainstay of India's power generation and requirement of the fuel for power generation is seen rising 3.8%, according to the draft plan. Coal currently accounts for half of India's installed capacity and 75% of electricity generation.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; editing by David Evans and Jonathan Oatis)