Rapid solar energy addition cannot avert likely surge in night power cuts

India faces a high risk of night-time power cuts this summer and in coming years as delays in adding new coal-fired and hydropower capacity could limit the country’s ability to address surging electricity demand when solar energy is not available.

A rapid addition of solar farms has helped India avert day-time supply gaps, but a shortage of coal-fired and hydropower capacity risks exposing millions to widespread outages at night, government data and internal documents reviewed by the Reuters show. 

India’s power availability in “non-solar hours” this April is expected to be 1.7 per cent lower than peak demand – a measure of the maximum electricity requirement over any given time, an internal note by the country’s grid regulator reviewed by the Reuters shows. 

April night-time peak demand is expected to hit 217 gw, up 6.4 per cent on the highest night-time levels recorded in April last year. 

“The situation is a little stressed,” Grid Controller of India (Grid India) has said in the note. 

While Indians looking to beat the heat this summer will want steady power for their air-conditioners, night-time outage risks threaten industries that operate around the clock, including auto, electronics, steel bar and fertiliser manufacturing plants. 

“If there is a power cut even for one minute, paper pulp gets blocked and messes up the delicate process and causes hundreds of thousands of rupees in losses,” points out P G Mukundan Nair, the former chief of an Indian paper industry body, who has been in paper manufacturing for nearly three decades. 

Report By