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Coal supply crisis looms as thermal demand zooms

20 Sep 2018

At least 14 power plants had super critical levels — less than four days — of coal stock as on September 17, while two thermal power plants had critical levels (less than seven days) of stock as on that date, according to the latest data from the Central Electricity Authority.
 
This does not, however, mean that the remaining power plants have comfortable levels of coal. In absolute numbers, 76 of the 121 thermal power plants in the country have coal stocks of seven days or less.
 
This is also because power plants have not lifted their coal stocks.
 
East is worst-hit region
The coal stock situation is the worst is the Eastern region, where 21 of the 28 power plants have stocks for a week or less, and the Western region, where 29 out of 40 power plants have a week or less of coal stock. Ten out of 20 plants in the Southern region and 16 out of 32 plants in the Northern region have similarly low levels of stock.
 
Interestingly, 32 of the 121 thermal power plants across the country are being supplied 99 per cent or higher (up to 152 per cent) of their annual contracted quantity of coal. This higher demand is putting more pressure on the coal supply value chain. Former Secretary in the Ministry of Coal, Susheel Kumar, said, “There are two aspects to the coal supply situation. One is production, and the other is supply, and both cannot be ramped up to keep pace with the spurt in demand. The level of demand for thermal power that is being witnessed is unprecedented. Power demand projections had factored in a greater share of renewable energy in the mix.”
 
The newly installed thermal power generation capacity is 1,45,155 MW, and the total coal stock at the plants stood at 12.29 million tonnes. This includes 407.76 thousand tonnes of imported coal. Comparatively, a year ago, on September 17, 2017, the installed thermal power capacity was 1,34,205 MW and the total coal stock stood at 9.38 mt.
 
Pressure on thermal power grew this week, given the lower wind and hydropower generation. This drove up tariffs on the spot power exchange, to their highest levels in eight years.
 
“The price is driven by a dip in power generation from hydro and wind sources and constraints in coal supply, and of course increased demand,” Rajesh Mendiratta, Director, IEX, Power & RE Markets and Policy & Regulations, said.
 
Source: The Hindu Business Line