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A pick-up in wind speed in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu before the onset of early monsoons is helping meet electricity demand across India, said two government officials aware of the development.

With water levels going up in reservoirs due to rains and high wind speed over the last 15 days, Karnataka is meeting more than 60% of its power demand from renewable energy sources, and selling surplus wind power to neighbouring states. This in turn has freed up its coal-fuelled power generation capacity to cater to demand in other parts of the country.

Similarly, Tamil Nadu is planning to switch to renewables to meet a large part of its power needs from 21 May, based on an assessment that suggests favourable weather and predictable wind conditions. Also, with 1 gigawatt (GW) of hydropower expected to come from the Bhakra dam in Himachal Pradesh, there may be some short-term respite to the ongoing power crisis in the country.

“With wind speed picking up before an expected early monsoon, there has been some relief in meeting the power demand. Also there is a pick up in hydropower generation," said one of the officials cited above requesting anonymity.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted an early onset of the southwest monsoon. It tweeted on Sunday, “Southwest monsoon likely to advance into South Andaman Sea, Nicobar Islands & adjoining Southeast Bay of Bengal during next 24 hours." Usually, the monsoon covers the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on 22 May and reaches Kerala by 1 June.

The maximum power demand met on Sunday was 191.25 GW, according to state-run Power System Operation Corp Ltd (Posoco) that oversees the country’s critical electricity load management functions. India recorded an all time high peak power demand of 207.111 GW and a peak power shortage of 10.77 GW on 29 April.

“Karnataka is not using its requisite quota of coal to fire the power plants but has engaged all its wind mills to meet the shortages and even supply surpluses to neighbouring states. Tamil Nadu itself is planning to switch a large part of its power needs to renewables from 21 May," said the second government official who also did not want to be named.

According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the 173 power plants that it tracks have a coal stock of 20.74million tonnes, less than a third of the required stock of 66.49 mt. A total of 80 power plants fuelled by domestic coal had less than a fourth of their prescribed fuel stock and were at a critical level. Also 10 plants running on imported coal had critical coal inventory as of 15 May.

Also 10 plants running on imported coal had critical coal inventory as of 14 May.

The union power ministry has directed India’s largest power sector lenders—state run Power Finance Corporation and REC Ltd—to arrange loans for six months to financially stressed imported coal-based power generation plants to enable them to restart generation.

Rituraj Baruah in New Delhi contributed to this story

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