India's electricity generation rose in March at its fastest pace in three months, government data showed, as increased use of air-conditioning to combat soaring temperatures and the return of employees to offices led to an increase of 5.99% in output.

Demand could surge further heading into summer, after weather officials forecast maximum temperatures above normal in April in most parts of the northwest and central regions.

The demand increase had alredy forced a cut in coal supplies to the non-power sector, with plans for some fuel auctions mothballed.

Coal fuels three-fourths of power production, with state-run Coal India Ltd contributing more than 80% of domestic output of coal.

The energy-hungry nation's electricity supply rose 8.1% during the fiscal year ending March 2022, its fastest growth in a decade, although chiefly because of a low base in 2020/21, when COVID-19 lockdowns battered demand.

Renewables such as wind and solar helped to fill higher demand in March, with output from green sources growing 22.2%, the fastest rate in seven months.

Coal-fired output in March grew at about 3%, on the back of record production and supply from Coal India during the year which ended that month.

Still, India suffered two of its worst power deficits in recent years in October and March, mainly because of coal shortages and logistics woes.

Coal India aims to ramp up production to 700 million tonnes in fiscal year 2022/23, up 12.4% from the 2021/22 figure of 622.6 million.

Generation by hydro and nuclear energy sources grew at the fastest pace in at least 27 months, making up for a steep fall in natural-gas fired generation.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)