Power and the Pandemic

August 21, 2020

How the COVID-19 outbreak unmasked Delhi’s electricity guzzling and thermal discomfort

The severe lockdown and slow reopening of the economy during the COVID19 pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to understand the trends in electricity consumption in our cities. While diverse uses of electricity — residential, commercial, retail, industry, agriculture among others — add up to contribute to the overall electricity demand in normal times, the lockdown phases have uniquely isolated the influence of residential demand. With economic activities coming to a near halt, only the households remained active users.

But this is not a simple and an obvious story of substantial drop in power consumption during hard lockdown. There is in fact, a more complex message around the pattern of residential demand. Despite the lower economic activities compared to previous summers, residential demand remained obstinate and bullish due to higher heat stress and resultant thermal discomfort during this summer lockdown. Not many have noticed this story though; public attention was drawn more towards the visible blue sky during the pandemic.



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