Power Minister RK Singh has asked to ramp up coal supply to thermal power projects in view of the rising demand for electricity in the country, an official release said on Saturday. A core management team (CMT) has been constituted to closely monitor the coal stocks at power plants and Power Secretary Alok Kumar has been doing daily reviews of the situation as well as action taken by the team, the release mentioned.
"In the light of the increasing power demand, the Union Minister for Power, New & Renewable Energy RK Singh reviewed the coal position of power plants on 3rd Sept 2021. The Secretaries and Senior officers of the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Coal, Railways, Coal Companies, Power Utilities and Central Electricity Authority (CEA) were present," the release by the Power Ministry said.
After detailed deliberations in the meeting, the minister gave a number of directions. Coal Subsidiaries of Coal India Ltd (CIL) were advised to adhere to the targets given to them for September 2021 and make all out efforts to ramp up coal production so as to gradually build up coal stocks at TPPs (thermal power plants). The minister asked CIL to review coal company-wise rake loading on a daily basis and ensure that it is commensurate with the rake loading target for the month of September 2021. It was advised to frame a policy for Gencos having captive coal blocks, that Gencos must ensure at least 85 percent of targeted coal production from captive blocks.
A system of incentive/ disincentive may be evolved for Captive Coal mines if their production exceeds the target or if there is any shortfall in production as compared to targets. Singh stated that he will also take a separate meeting on issues related to captive coal blocks with the concerned Gencos and States to ensure enhancement of coal production from captive coal mines.
Before that, the power secretary would be taking a meeting with all stakeholders in respect of captive coal mines on Monday. The Core Management Team (CMT) will plan to regulate coal supply to plants having stock of more than 10 days and the freed-up coal from such regulation may be distributed to plants with critical/supercritical coal stocks.
It will be ensured that imported coal-based plants should run at 85 percent PLF (plant load factor). If the states having PPAs (power purchase agreements) with imported coal-based plants, fail to schedule power then their domestic coal may be suitably regulated. The states may be given a notice of about 2-3 weeks in this regard so that they may plan their requirement of coal and scheduling of power accordingly. It was advised that scheduled maintenance of hydro plants in the months of September and October should be deferred.
Further, Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) should also review its power production programme. It was deliberated that CIL would ramp up its coal production from 600 MT to 1000 MT (million tonnes) by 2025-26. The CIL was advised to tie up with Railways to avoid future bottlenecks in the transportation of coal in the next two years so as to ensure seamless movement of coal from mines to thermal power plants.
The CEA (central electricity authority) was advised to review the mandatory coal-stock limits for pit-head and non-pit head plants. There should be a system of incentives/ disincentives for keeping the coal stocks as per mandatory limit/lower than the mandatory limit. As during the months of monsoon the supply of coal gets affected, TPPs may be suitably incentivised for ramping up coal stocks prior to the onset of monsoon.
The incentive to TPPs would be in terms of priority in loading from desired mine and supply of crushed coal. The minister desired to get a list of power plants that had regulated coal supply by not submitting/partially submitting programmes in the months of April to June 2021 leading to the problem of coal stocks in August- September 2021. The defaulter plants should be asked to lift (-) 250 mm uncrushed coal for meeting their shortfall.
Further, it was suggested that states should have clarity that coal would be supplied commensurate with the payments made to coal companies. The CEA was asked to prepare a daily coal report Gencos wise indicating coal stock in their respective plants. As State/Central Gencos have been given the flexibility to use their linkage coal among any of their plants, Genco wise monitoring may enable better management and movement of coal Genco wise. The minister asked the Gencos to note the suggestion given by Railways that the issue of transportation bottleneck may happen during foggy season (mid-October onwards) in Northern India and therefore, sufficient coal stock should be built before that.
It was desired to explore the possibility of operating more gas-based plants during peak hours. The proposal given by NTPC to the states for scheduling gas-based power plants may be finalized for the willing States as early as possible, it stated.