By Sudarshan Varadhan
CHENNAI (Reuters) – India’s electricity use fell 6.2% during the first half of May compared to the second half of April, government data showed, as coronavirus blockages imposed by states across the country stifled the demand for energy.
The average daily electricity supply to states fell to 3,666 billion units during the first sixteen days of May, compared with 3,910 billion units during the second half of April, data from the federal regulator of the POSOCO network showed.
Industries and offices account for half of the country’s annual electricity consumption. Power generation in India generally starts to increase from April and peaks in May due to an increased air conditioning load.
Energy use in May was higher than in the same period last year, except in two southern states and two northeastern states, the data showed, indicating that the restrictions were less stringent than last year, despite the increase in deaths due to the pandemic.
India’s federal government – which imposed a strict national blockade in April and May 2020 – resisted the imposition of restrictions across the country during India’s second wave, but most states have restricted movement.
Senior government officials cited the recovery in energy demand in late 2020 as a sign that the economy was starting to recover from its worst recession in decades.
Three-quarters of the regions recorded a drop in energy use in May, compared to the second half of April, due to restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus.
Energy use has increased in the northern states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi – among the regions most affected by the coronavirus, even though overall power generation has fallen 6.3% compared to the second half of April.
The energy supplied to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – India’s wealthiest and most industrial states that together account for almost a third of total electricity consumption – has fallen by more than 5% each.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)