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Electricity demand in India will continue to grow and remain largely above 205 GW going ahead, Union power minister RK Singh said. Speaking at the India Energy Transition Summit 2022 on Thursday, Singh said power demand in the country will not go back to the pre-covid levels of 160 GW.

“Demand is not going to go away; demand will remain at this level and will grow from this level. This is now the new level. It’s not going back to 160 GW; the new baseline is 205 GW and it will go up from there and not come down," he said.

The statement gains significance at a time of soaring temperatures and elevated power demand across wide swathes of India, and concerns prevail over a possible crisis when power demand reaches a new peak by the end of the month.

On 9 June, the maximum power demand met in the country at a record 210.793 GW. The last recorded maximum power demand met stood at 203.078 GW on 15 June. The minister also said that India will continue its efforts to increase coal production in the country.

After the crisis in April, the government asked states to increase coal imports and directed Coal India Ltd to issue tenders on behalf of state discoms and independent power producers.

Last week, Coal India issued tenders for coal imports of more than 8 million tonnes. With the imported coal coming in, the situation has somewhat eased. However, coal stock at power plants is still low. Power plants tracked by the Central Electricity Authority now have a total stock of 24.4 million tonnes, which is 36% of the required inventory of 66.96 million tonnes.

A total of 79 power plants operating on domestic coal, along with eight imported coal-based plants, are running on less than 25% of the required stock, CEA data showed.

Talking about the government’s focus on renewable energy, he said: “We have the largest and the fastest growing renewable energy capacity and fastest rate of transition in the world. I am certain that we will be able to sell renewable energy with storage at 6.5-7 and there will be demand for round-the-clock renewable energy even at that rate."

The minister also said the government will introduce the Electricity Amendment Bill in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament, which would propose raising of penalties for non-compliance with renewable purchase obligations (RPO).

Outlining efforts for higher adoption of renewable energy, Singh said the government will come out with more incentives for green hydrogen. In February, the government came up with the Green Hydrogen Policy and a comprehensive green hydrogen mission is in the making.

“We have setup rules for green hydrogen and will come up with further set of sweeteners to make green hydrogen. We plan to achieve for 500 GW by 2030 and by adopting green hydrogen and green ammonia, we can reach 700 GW by 2030," he said.

Singh, who also holds the portfolio of new and renewable energy, said the government will come up with a separate RPO for wind energy as it is more expensive that solar power.

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