The coal shortage is likely to cause an energy crisis in India. As multiple power plants are running out of coal reserves, many states are expected to face power shortages.
As the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic-related economic restrictions, the demand for power, and thus coal, has increased manifold. But the supply has failed to keep pace. The slow recovery has also been hampered by heavy rains that have flooded multiple mines and key supply routes, strangling the inflow of coal from domestic producers.
India’s power crisis comes at a time when many global regions are facing similar problems of their own. Europe and UK's natural gas shortage, China’s power crisis among others are contributing to the global energy crisis.
In India, states are expected to be disproportionately affected depending on their dependence on coal-powered thermal power plants. States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, which have a high capacity of renewables supplying their grid are expected to weather the coal shortage. But some states are expected to face power crises.
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The perpetually distressed PSPCL announced recently that the state will be imposing three-hour power cuts till October 13 to deal with the coal shortage. State officials said that coal-fired power plants were only working at 50 per cent capacity.
The national capital and its surrounding regions may also face power cuts as Tata Power Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), which supplies electricity to parts of the city, warning of load shedding measures as coal stocks start running short. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he had already informed the Prime Minister about the power crisis.
The state was one of the first to impose power cuts to deal with the coal shortage and 10 big cities would see power cuts of one hour every day. The western state stopped receiving 380 MW of power from Tata Power’s coal-based power plant at Mundra in Gujarat, as the plant shut down over lack of availability of imported coal.
The state’s power generation unit, APGENCO, caters to nearly 45 per cent of its power demand. But power plants run by APGENCO only have coal reserves to last 1-2 days, threatening continuous power as well as the farmers across the state who need water for irrigation.
Kerala’s Power Minister K Krishnankutty had recently said that the state may have to resort to load shedding soon as it was not receiving its allotted power from the central pool any longer. The state had been experiencing a shortage of 10 to 15 per cent from the central power pool due to the unavailability of coal at central thermal plants.
Other states are expected to be affected if the shortage continues, especially those that rely heavily on coal power. India is the second-largest producer and consumer of coal in the world, and the recent power crisis has been blamed partly on its over-reliance on the highly polluting fossil fuel.
(Edited by : Anilkumar Narayan)