Heat wave in India sparks blackouts and highlights dependence on coal (CBC News/Associated Press – May 3, 2022)


An unusually early and brutal heat wave is scorching parts of India, with acute power shortages affecting millions as demand for electricity surges to record levels. Supplies of coal at many thermal power plants are running perilously low, spawning daily power outages in several states. The shortages are sparking scrutiny of India’s longtime reliance on coal, which produces 70 per cent of the country’s electricity.

The situation highlights India’s pressing need to diversify its energy sources, as demand for electricity is expected to increase more than anywhere else in the world over the next 20 years as the densely populated country develops, according to the International Energy Agency.

The shortages hit as blisteringly high temperatures are sweeping over parts of the country, prompting authorities to close schools, sparking fires at gigantic landfills and shriveling crops as a cool spring turned into unrelenting heat.

India recorded its hottest March since 1901, and average temperatures in April in northern and central pockets of the country were the highest in 122 years, the Indian Meteorological Department said. Temperatures breached 45 C in 10 cities last week, although cloudy skies and rain could bring some relief soon.

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