Power plants are facing coal shortage and developers foresee a decline in generation as some projects are operating with no or just one day’s coal stock. However, the coal ministry has sought to allay such fears by saying that the situation is being closely monitored by top officials in the ministries of power, coal and railways.
The problem has aggravated with near record imported coal prices forcing closure of some of power plants including Adani Power’s 2,000-mw Mundra project. Coal secretary Susheel Kumar has said there is adequate coal available but unavailability of rail rakes is an issue. The power ministry has said that coal supply has not kept pace with electricity generation, while the coal ministry has said that the staterun monopoly Coal India has been meeting its contracted obligations.
“The situation is critical, with about 11 plants operating with less than seven days’ stock and 14 with less than four days’ stock,” power secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla told ET.
“Average stock in coal plants is 15 million tonnes, which is about 10 days’ requirement. In some plants, coal stocks are of one day or less. Despite efforts, growth in delivery to power plants has not kept pace regularly,” he said.
Some plants, he said, have not been able to maintain adequate stocks amid working capital issues due to delayed payments from power distribution companies.
The coal secretary said there is no coal shortage. “There is enough coal and absolutely no need to panic. This year there is tremendous increase in demand. Coal stock at pit head was 68.69 million tonnes at the beginning of this fiscal. The lowest the coal stocks have hit is 29.20 million tonnes in November last year,” Kumar said.
“Similarly the lowest coal stock availability at thermal power plants was 7.3 million tonnes in October last year, which has now increased to 15.15 million tonnes. The situation is much better now, though I would not say it is completely satisfactory.”
Kumar said the government is aiming at 21 days’ stock of 30 million tonnes at the power plants and the ideal situation would be to have additional 30 million tonnes at pit head.
“Although dispatches have increased from Coal India compared to last financial year, the stock level which we would like at the thermal power plants is still to be reached,” he said. Read More
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