- While 19 TPPs of capacity 27,550 MW had one day’s stock, 20 plants of 24,980 MW had just two days’ coal stock
- A total of 18 coal-based power plants of 22,010 MW had three days’ coal stock
New Delhi: Fifteen plants (of capacity 14,875 MW) out of India’s 104 thermal power plants (TPPs) had zero coal stock, as of October 1, shows latest data sourced from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). While 19 TPPs of capacity 27,550 MW had one day’s stock, 20 plants of 24,980 MW had just two days’ coal stock. And a total of 18 coal-based power plants of 22,010 MW had three days’ coal stock. This means that thermal power plants of capacity 89.415 GW have less than three days’ coal stock.
According to the CEA, India’s total installed power generation capacity stands at 383.37 GW, out of which coal accounts for 202.67 GW.
Sudden spurt in power demand caused depletion of coal stock
Led by a revival in economic activities in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last week of August has seen a sudden spurt in power demand, which is unprecedented. This has spurred the consumption of coal by thermal power plants. At the beginning of August, a total of 23 thermal power plants of capacity 32,712 MW had less than eight days’ coal stock. However, due to a sudden jump in power demand, a total of 68 plants of capacity 89,037 MW had less than eight days’ coal stock. Out of these, 46 TPPs had less than three days’ coal stock.
The latest data released by the CEA shows that 104 TPPs of capacity 126.819 GW have less than seven days’ coal stock.
Low coal stock crisis
Generally, state-run miner Coal India Ltd (CIL) builds up coal inventories at power utilities during the first quarter but the Covid-19 pandemic posed a hindrance to this, and extra stocking was not possible. Compounding the woes, extended monsoon at coalfield areas interrupted production and supplies. Primarily, what precipitated the situation was the unforeseen escalation in the power generation from the second week of August and the insatiable appetite for coal. Along with this, as global coal prices increased, thermal power plants which were relying on imported coal for power generation reduced their import orders and instead shifted their orders to CIL. All of these factors have contributed to a shortage of coal in thermal power plants in India.
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