India's electricity generation falls 14.3% in May

Sudarshan Varadhan
A bird flies next to electricity pylons in the old quarters of Delhi

By Sudarshan Varadhan

CHENNAI (Reuters) - India's electricity generation in May fell at a slower pace than in April, as higher temperatures lead to greater demand for residential power and the government eased some lockdown restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Overall electricity generation fell 14.3% in May, a Reuters analysis of provisional government data showed, compared with a decline of 24% in April.

Despite higher consumption by residential consumers, power use was lower as many industries and commercial establishments - which account for over half of India's annual consumption - were shut or not operating at full capacity.

Electricity generation from coal - India's primary source of electricity - fell 22%, an analysis of daily load despatch data from POSOCO showed. Coal's contribution to overall electricity generation in May fell to 64.2%, compared with an average of over 70.7% last year.

India's electricity demand is likely to fall for the first time in at least four decades this fiscal year, analysts say, adding to the woes of coal-fired utilities, which were already hurting due to a prolonged industrial slowdown.

Thermal coal imports by India - the second-largest consumer, importer and producer of coal and third-largest greenhouse gas emitter - could fall as much as 18% in 2020 due to lower electricity demand, Anurag Sehgal, an analyst at Noble Resources said, a blow to miners in Indonesia and South Africa.

Menwhile, India's solar power supply grew 12.7% and hydro-powered electricity supply rose 3.6%, while gas-fired power output was 13.8% higher, the data showed. However, wind-powered electricity supply fell 10.8%.

The share of fossil fuels in overall electricity generation in May was 70.71%, compared with 76% the previous year, an analysis of data from POSOCO showed.


(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan, editing by Louise Heavens)