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There isn’t enough coal to meet India’s power demand

An exponential increase in power demand is causing power plants to generate more power, resulting in depletion of coal stock faster than anticipated 

There isn’t enough coal to meet India’s power demand
There isn’t enough coal to meet India’s power demand

New Delhi: India’s reliance on coal for power generation and the fast-growing demand are turning out to be a double whammy for both the power sector and coal producers. At present, there are 10 thermal power plants with no coal and nine others have coal stock that will last for one more day only, data sourced from Central Electricity Authority (CEA) by PSU Watch showed.

According to the figures provided by CEA, all these plants have received coal amounting to either their slotted volume or more than their stipulated quantity. Out of the nine plants that have stock for one more day, eight plants have received between 87-109 percent of their annual contracted quantity (ACQ), and yet are low on coal.

The figures also show that there has been an exponential increase in power demand and even though power plants are getting the desired supply of coal, they are using it up faster than anticipated. NTPC Korba super thermal power station, for example got 101 percent of its ACQ on a pro rata basis between April-December 2018 but is staring at zero-day coal stock as it generated power at an average 87 percent capacity utilisation.

A set of six other plants have coal pile that will last for two more days, despite the fact that they received between 77-107 percent of their contracted quantity. Coal scarcity has been plaguing both the power and the non-power sector for a large part of the last year. The news also brought state-owned coal producer, Coal India Ltd (CIL), under fire for not ensuring that supply meets the demand.

A statement released by CIL said that during April-November 2018, the coal producer supplied 315.94 MT of coal to the power sector at a growth of more than 8% compared to the supply of 291.78 MT in the corresponding period of the last year. Coal India does not supply the full quantity of coal required by thermal power plants. While plants established before April 2009 receive 90 percent of their annual contracted coal quantity, those set up after April 2009 receive 75 percent of their ACQ. And the state-owned company has fulfilled its supply quota to almost all thermal power plants for April-December 2018.

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The figures also show that there has been an exponential increase in power demand and even though power plants are getting the desired supply of coal, they are using it up faster than anticipated. NTPC Korba super thermal power station, for example got 101 percent of its ACQ on a pro rata basis between April-December 2018 but is staring at zero-day coal stock as it generated power at an average 87 percent capacity utilisation. In November, the plant generated almost 94 percent of its total capacity.

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