An energy crisis is looming in some states, including Delhi and Punjab, due to a combination of factors such as excess rainfall hitting coal movement and imported coal-based power plants generating less than half of their capacity due to record-high rates.
While power producers and distributors have warned of blackouts as generation units are running coal as low as two days, the Coal Ministry said the country has adequate coal stocks and low inventory doesn't mean generation will stop as stock is being continuously replenished.
Power Ministry has ascribed four reasons for the depletion of coal stocks at the power plants - unprecedented increase in demand of electricity due to revival of economy, heavy rains in coal mine areas during September impacting production as well as despatch, increase in prices of imported coal to unprecedented high level leading to substantial reduction in power generation from imported coal based power plants, and non-building of adequate coal stocks before the onset of Monsoon.
"Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited have assured that they're making best efforts to increase dispatch to power sector to 1.6 MT/day in next 3 days & try to touch 1.7 MT/day," said the Power Ministry
The country is the world's second-largest importer of coal despite also being home to the fourth-largest coal reserves in the world. Power plants that usually rely on imports are now heavily dependent on Indian coal, adding further pressure to already stretched domestic supplies.
An inter-ministerial sub-group led by the Ministry of Coal has been monitoring the coal stock situation twice a week. In order to manage the coal stock and ensure equitable distribution of coal, the Ministry of Power constituted a Core Management Team (CMT) which is closely monitoring and managing the coal stocks on a daily basis and ensuring follow up actions with Coal India Ltd and Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants.
The daily consumption of electricity has crossed beyond 4 billion units per day. Imported coal price of Indonesian coal jumped from USD 60 per tonne in March to USD 160, resulting in 43.6 percent reduction in power generation from imported coal which led to extra demand of 17.4 million tonnes of domestic coal during April-September.
The Power Ministry on Friday issued guidelines for operationalising optimum utilisation of generating stations as per the requirement in the electricity grid.
According to the order of the ministry, it has been brought to the notice of the government that some power plants are not generating to their full capacity at any given time and the unutilised capacity remains idle as they are tied up under power purchase agreements.
Whereas in the public interest, such power needs to be despatched (supplied) where there is a requirement in the grid by the other users or consumers, it stated.
(With inputs from PTI)
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST