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India's coal-fired power output picks up as industrial use rises

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

By Sudarshan Varadhan

CHENNAI (Reuters) - India's coal-fired electricity generation rose 9.4% in the first half of September, provisional government data showed, as demand from industrial western states rose for the first time since coronavirus lockdowns were enforced.

The country's overall electricity generation rose 1.6% during the first 15 days of September, a Reuters analysis of daily load despatch data from federal grid operator POSOCO showed, driven by higher consumption by states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Coal-fired electricity generation accounted for 70% of India's power output in 2019, according to India's Central Electricity Authority. The share of the fuel in power generation fell to as low as 60% during the coronavirus lockdowns, as use of renewable energy for electricity generation rose.

However, the share of coal in India's overall electricity generation rose to nearly 66% during the first 15 days of September, the highest since March 2020 levels of 71.2%, data from POSOCO showed.

Coal India Ltd <COAL.NS>, the world's largest coal miner, had reported its first increase in production in five months during the month of August, driven by higher demand from power producers.

Electricity use by Gujarat rose 6.2%, whereas consumption in Maharashtra rose 4.3%, the data showed. The two states, among the most industrial in the country, together account for about a fifth of annual power consumption.

Power consumption by industries and offices account for half of India's electricity demand. Most states have removed nearly all restrictions and opened up factories, even as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the country.

While solar-powered electricity generation continued to rise, surging over a third compared with the previous year, hydro and wind power output fell, the data showed.

Hydro power output fell over 10%, while wind-based electricity generation fell by over half, the data showed. Gas-fired generation rose about 8%.


(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; editing by David Evans)