In May, India’s coal deficit was eased by record renewable energy output

The environment, forest, and climate change ministry have relaxed environmental regulations for coal mining in response to the ongoing power deficit situation. In a circular issued May 7, 2022, the ministry exempted several coal mines from environmental clearance as well as public consultation in order to expand by 10% of their current capacity.

This is a further loosening of a previous exemption that allowed for up to 40% expansion. The ministry’s action is being touted as a one-time exception to the coal scarcity in order to accommodate the ongoing surge in power demand. Despite a 23.5 percent increase in power demand in May, unprecedented green energy output lowered India’s reliance on coal, contributing to a surge in coal inventories, according to a Reuters assessment of government data.

Increased renewable energy supply will help to alleviate India’s coal shortfall, which has compelled the nation to reopen mines and revert to importing the fuel due to unprecedented demand increases. Renewable energy sources increased their percentage of power generation to 14.1% in May, up from 10.2% in April. Coal made way for it, falling from 76.8% to 72.4 percent of the Indian generation.

However, by May 2021, coal’s share had risen to 70.9 percent. In May, power shortfalls narrowed to 0.4 percent of requirements, driven solely by demand rather than supply decreases. In a study of daily load dispatch data from POSOCO, the federal grid regulator revealed that this was down from 1.8 percent in April. Demand is predicted to grow at its strongest rate in nearly 38 years for the fiscal year ending March 2023.

Utilities’ coal stocks were at their lowest rate in years at the end of April, but they grew 6.3 percent to 23.3 million tonnes in May, supported by renewables taking on more of the national electrical load. The biggest electrical crisis in more than six years, according to climate campaigners, was caused by a delay in the installation of renewable energy capacity. India, the globe’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has fallen 37 percent short of its goal for green power capacity by the end of 2022.

According to the figures, energy consumption in May was up 23.5 percent from the same month the previous year and increased 11.9 percent from May 2019. The results showed that wind energy generation grew 51.1 percent in May compared to the previous year, while solar output power increased 37.8 percent. All-renewable-energy generation increased by 44.1 percent over the previous year, the fastest increase in nearly 30 months.

According to analysts, the power cut relief in May was only temporary, and India’s power problem is uncertain to be remedied anytime soon. In April, India saw its most severe power outages in more than six years.

Higher solar generation, India’s principal renewable energy source, is especially crucial for relieving the load on an aging network of coal-fired power plants, since demand spikes during the daytime. It also saves coal for nighttime generating and alleviates train traffic congestion.

SMEs, educational institutions, banks, hospitals, and residential communities will gain from lowering their reliance on the grid and producing their electricity while selling some back to the grid. There is a compelling reason for the government to support distributed solar even further in order to protect India’s economic operations from frequent power outages.

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