Hot spell ahead: Kerala braces for high temperatures, electricity consumption peaks

Representational Image: Malayala Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: A yellow alert has been issued across several districts in Kerala as temperatures continue to soar. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that the maximum temperature in Palakkad and Kollam districts is expected to reach 38 degrees Celsius from March 15 to 19.

IMD further predicts that temperatures will climb to 37 degrees Celsius in Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Kozhikode districts, and 36 degrees Celsius (2 - 4 degrees Celsius above normal) in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, and Thrissur districts.

With high temperatures and humid conditions prevailing, these districts, except for the hilly areas, are likely to experience hot and humid weather from March 15 to 19.

Crop yields affected
A study conducted by the Center for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), analyzing rainfall and heat data spanning 37 years, reveals a consistent rise in temperatures across Kerala. This upward trend is directly impacting crop yields, with even a one-degree increase in temperature potentially reducing yields by up to 14 percent. Notably, significant decreases in paddy and pulses production have been observed.

Electricity demand
In terms of electricity demand, the state witnessed a new record with consumption peaking at 5076 MW on Thursday evening. To meet this demand, the state board must procure electricity at Rs 9-10 per unit from the power exchange, incurring daily costs exceeding Rs 10 crore. However, financial constraints pose challenges, especially with elections approaching, making load shedding impractical. In the absence of adequate funds, unannounced regulations may become necessary.

Over four consecutive days, evening (peak load) power demand surpassed 5,000 MW, translating to consumption exceeding 10 crore units. With usage projected to rise further next month, a daily expenditure of Rs 20 crore will be required for electricity procurement, totaling approximately Rs 1,477 crore until May. Currently, only Rs 500 crore has been allocated.

In response to the crisis, the government has sanctioned the purchase of 500 MW under a 15-year long-term contract, with availability expected in August. However, this is insufficient to address immediate needs. Additionally, while reservoir storage levels remain relatively stable, Mangalam Dam reports a 37 per cent decrease in water compared to the previous year as of March 2, while other dams exhibit fluctuations of less than 10 per cent.

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