(Bloomberg) -- India has raised its forecast on peak electricity demand as energy consumption continues to outpace expectations, pushing the nation to expand its giant coal fleet.

Government officials now expect electricity demand to surge to a high of 384 gigawatts in the 12 months through March 2032, a 5% increase on an estimate issued in May, according to people familiar with the details.

A review of forecasts was carried out after a sharp rise in demand last year, when searing temperatures prompted higher use of air conditioners and pumps for irrigation, said the people, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly.

India’s power ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Electricity demand in India rose 7% in 2023 and is likely to average growth of 6% a year through 2026 on higher economic activity, according to the International Energy Agency. “Over the next three years, India will add electricity demand roughly equivalent to the current consumption of the UK,” the IEA said in a report last month.

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Peak demand last year reached 243 gigawatts, surging past the power ministry’s projections of 229 gigawatts. In response, India announced in December it would add almost 88 gigawatts of new thermal power capacity — the majority of which will be coal-fired plants — by early 2032, about two-thirds more than had previously been planned.

Coal currently accounts for 70% of India’s electricity generation and is expected to remain a dominant source of energy at least for a decade. 

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