Concerns of power crisis persist as thermal plants grapple with coal shortage

On Tuesday, Coal India Ltd (CIL) said it has increased supplies of the fuel to thermal power stations, but admitted the supply boost could be ‘dwarfed’ as low coal stocks at thermal plants continued to stoke fears of power shortage this summer.

NEW DELHI : Thermal power plants across the country are grappling with coal shortage, indicating a looming power crisis in the country.

Shailendra Dubey, Chairman of All-India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) said that coal inventories held by Indian power plants remain tight at around nine days of stock. As per norms, plants near pitheads should have stock of 17 days and the those away from coal pitheads should stock for 26 days.

“Thermal plants across the country are grappling with coal shortage as the power demand in states has increased, and many of them are not able to bridge the gap between demand and supply because of insufficient coal stocks at thermal plants,” AIPEF Chairman Shailendra Dubey said in a statement.

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Dubey said that high demand for power along with high price of imported coal and shortage of railway rakes for transport of coal have also impacted the coal inventory at power plants. Presently only 412 rakes are available as against the daily requirement of 453 rakes.

According to AIPEF, in the northern region, the worst suffering states are Rajasthan ,Punjab, Haryana and UP. In Uttar Pradesh coal stock is left for seven days, in Haryana coal stock is for eight days, in Rajasthan, the stock would last for 17 days as against the standard norm of 26 days coal stock.

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Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are the other states facing a coal crisis.

He said that although the Union Power Ministry has recommended the import of coal for blending up to 10 per cent to ensure adequate stock when the power demand is at its peak in the next few months but due to 10% blending of imported coal the generation cost is likely to increase by 30 to 40 percent.

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“Due to the war between Ukraine and Russia, the cost of imported coal has gone up from $100 per tonne to $300 per tonne,” the AIPEF statement said.

According to data from the Central Electricity Authority, the 173 power plants, under its ambit, which also include plants using imported coal, have a stock of 22.26 million tonne, against the requirement of 66.32 million tonne.

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A total of 105 plants out of the 173 had critical stock as of April 19. Critical stock refers to less than 25% of the required inventory.

On Tuesday, Coal India Ltd (CIL) said it has increased supplies of the fuel to thermal power stations, but admitted the supply boost could be “dwarfed” as low coal stocks at thermal plants continued to stoke fears of power shortage this summer. CIL said it has raised its supplies to thermal power stations by 14.2% during the first half of April 2022 compared with the same period last fiscal.

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