Winter power demand hits new high
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New Delhi: Winter heating to counter a severe cold wave sweeping across north India has driven up power demand beyond what was seen in previous years, sending power distributors in the region scurrying to negotiate arrangements to prepare for contingencies.
Delhi’s peak power demand this winter is expected to be around 4,500-4,600 mega watt (MW), compared to around 4,125MW a year ago, according to a spokesperson for two units of BSES promoted by Reliance Infrastructure Ltd supplying power in the National Capital Region (NCR). Peak winter power demand in NCR which has steadily risen from 3,678MW in 2010, has already crossed last year’s winter peak.
Last summer, peak demand had touched 6,188MW in the capital on 20 May, about a quarter more than the peak summer demand around the same time a year ago. Energy demand peaks in mornings and early night hours compared to the average level of supply and forms a component in the electricity tariff to the consumer. It makes sense for a consumer to keep her peak demand lower as power generation companies have to invest in extra capacity required to service the peak demand which remains idle at other times.
According to Praveer Sinha, chief executive officer and managing director at Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, Delhi may see a rise in winter peak power demand as compared to previous years due to the persistent cold wave. “We all are experiencing a dip in the temperature to the coldest minimum since 2013, which has led to the increase in demand. At Tata Power-DDL, we have made prior arrangements to meet the rising demand...We have tied up through long-term power supply, banking as well as procurement on short term though the exchange,” said Sinha.
Power banking is a barter system of supplying excess power available to a distribution company to a counterpart which can be sourced back at another season at no cost. Distribution firms serving in plains strike such deals with those in hill states where power demand is more in winter and less in summer.
“Besides long-term arrangements, we are also using techniques like banking and backdown to dispose of surplus power and making arrangements to get power during summer months. In case of any unforeseeable contingency, BSES discoms will buy short-term power from the exchange which is available at economical rates,” said the company spokesperson.
BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd will bank the surplus of around 200MW with states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL) has arranged for an additional 150MW from Punjab for December and January. To reduce the night surplus, BYPL will supply around 175MW to Bihar between December and March, said the spokesperson.
This year, winter came late in the north and central parts of India. Two sets of cold waves, first between 11-15 January and the second between 18-19 January led to a severe fall in temperature across many parts of north and central India. In the first spell, Delhi’s minimum temperature dropped to 3.4 degrees Celsius on 12 January, the lowest in January in three years. Churu in Rajasthan recorded a minimum temperature of -1.9°C, seven degrees below average, making it the coldest city in the country on 12 January.
According to India Meteorological Department, another cold wave will grip the northern parts of the country in the next few days which would lead to a fall in temperature. Isolated parts of North Rajasthan and south Haryana will continue facing cold waves during this period.