As the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown begin to recede, some recovery of electricity generation has been in train over the last two months, but total generation is still close to levels last seen two years ago. The brunt of the decline has been borne by coal generation, which has not been this low since mid-2017 (this is most clearly seen in the moving average data which removes seasonal effects).
Renewable generation has barely grown in recent months, with a large drop in wind power only partly compensated for by increased solar generation.
Coal production has seen a strong up-tick, but dispatches have now lagged production very substantially every month this calendar year.
India’s power plants have started to again consume more coal, but the absolute level of consumption remains depressed at levels last seen in early 2017, when averaged across 12 months. The early recovery has a steeper slope than the long-term trend, but it remains to be seen whether this catch-up phase will be sustained.
Although India is now stockpiling much less coal than the all-time high late in 2019, the monthly data disguises the fact that late October levels are typically the lowest for the year, and they are well above normal this year. Consequently, the moving average data shows that stockpiles remain much higher than normal. The unusual and sustained lag of coal dispatch relative to production, evident in the earlier graphs, has resulted in a steady increase in stocks held at the pithead.
Although solar capacity installation continues to outpace thermal additions, the pace of both has slackened over the last 10 months, thermal more than solar, with wind additions also being depressed.
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