Lower energy consumption during the lockdown period related to COVID-19 and a decreased share of coal in the electricity mix has led to the first decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in four decades in India, according to a recent report.
It added that though temporary, the country experienced a 15 per cent decrease in emissions in March and a 30 per cent decrease in April this year.
According to the report by consulting firm Capgemini, most of the drop in total power demand was borne by coal-based generation, which fell by 15 per cent in March and 31 per cent in the first three weeks of April. While the share of coal in the energy mix decreased from about 75 per cent pre-lockdown to 65 per cent.
It added that the share of renewables in the power mix increased from about 17 per cent to above 25 per cent, especially due to low operating costs and priority access to the grid through regulation.
“Following the lockdown measures, energy consumption fell by about 25 per cent within 10 days due to demand reduction from industries linked to supply chain disruptions and slowdown in demand. The western industrial regional — Gujarat and Maharashtra — recorded the steepest decline in consumption, where it fell by 35 per cent,” said the report titled ‘World Energy Markets Observatory report 2020’ by Capgemini.
Renewables auctions were maintained during the lockdown, with 2,000 MW of new solar capacity secured at an average cost of $34 per MW, which was cheaper than the average cost of a unit of electricity from India’s biggest coal generator.
To contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, India had imposed a lockdown in March which softened in May this year, though state-imposed local lockdowns continued to be implemented in the following weeks.
Regarding energy demand, the report said that this year the demand was expected to see a 4 per cent decrease compared to 2019.