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Thermal plant concerns: Adequate coal reserves, fears of crisis, says government

The Coal Ministry said on Sunday that India has enough stocks to meet the demand for coal in thermal power plants, and fears of disruption in power supply are “totally misplaced”.

Thermal power plants in the country are currently facing coal shortage due to sharp increase in power demand, limited supply due to heavy rainfall in September, less accumulation of stocks in April-June and sharp rise in the price of imported coal. .

The ministry’s statement came in response to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s allegation that the Center was trying to “run away” from the coal crisis.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the prime minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked the Center to ensure adequate supply of coal and natural gas to thermal power plants supplying Delhi, three of which had coal stocks for only one day, less than the national average of four days. Was.

Thermal power plants are required to maintain a coal inventory of 15-30 days depending on their distance from the source of supply.

“Assuring everyone that there is no danger of disruption in power supply. Coal India has enough coal reserves of 43 million tonnes, which is equivalent to 24 days’ coal demand.

The Ministry of Coal in its release said, “There is enough coal available to meet the demand of power plants in the country. The possibility of power supply disruption is completely unfounded.

It said that 1.92 million tonnes (MT) of coal was dispatched to thermal power plants on October 9 as against the total consumption of 1.87 million tonnes, indicating a change in the situation towards gradual build-up of stocks.

Sisodia likens the current shortage of coal to the crisis of medical oxygen that the national capital faced during the second wave COVID-19 Transition in April-May this year.

He said, “They (Central government) did the same thing when the country was facing oxygen shortage. They will not even accept that there is a problem,” Sisodia said.

He warned that the coal crisis could lead to a power crisis, which would shut down power systems across the country and severely affect the industry.

Thermal power plants in UP, Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have a combined capacity of about 11.4 gigawatts (GW) due to coal shortage since mid-July, according to government data.

A coal shortage in July led to a “forced maintenance” of 1,750 MW of thermal capacity, with an additional 5,985 MW faced in September. Another 3,695 megawatts of electricity was shut down in the first six days of October.

India’s coal-fired thermal power plants account for 208.8 GW (54 percent) of India’s 388 GW installed generation capacity. Their share in India’s electricity mix has increased from 61.9 per cent in 2019 to 66.4 per cent.

Punjab has also raised the issue of very short stock of coal leading to power cuts. In Rajasthan, the state power utility on Friday officially announced an hour-long power cut due to shortage of coal.

On 7 October, the 1,500 MW thermal plant in Suratgarh, Rajasthan had only one day’s coal stock left. Major plants at Talwandi and Rajpura in Punjab had stocks for only two and three days respectively. The 1,820 MW Dadri Thermal Power Plant, a major electricity supplier to Delhi, had only one day’s stock on October 6.

States facing power shortage have had to buy at exorbitant rates on exchanges. The India Energy Exchange (IEX) reported a maximum market clearing price of Rs 20 per unit (kWh) on October 10 in the Day Ahead Market (DAM) for electricity, with demand far higher than supply on the exchanges.

Purchase bids for power rose to 403,632 megawatts (MWh) on October 10 from 291,629 MW a month earlier. Average market clearing price has also increased to Rs 13.3 per unit from Rs 4.08 per unit a month ago.

Power Minister RK Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi on Sunday reviewed the stock position in thermal power plants supplying Delhi, a government release said.

 

The government has advised power producer NTPC to provide distribution companies in Delhi with the full capacity of power announced in power purchase agreements (PPAs), and take action against discoms who resort to “load shedding” even when power is available. warned of.

Discoms have in some cases reduced the power levels required under some old PPAs, as the pricing structure has become unviable with alternative sources of power becoming relatively cheap.

The government has also directed natural gas distributor GAIL India to provide gas “from all sources” to gas-based power plants in Delhi.

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