28 Feb 2022

Coal Shortage a Worry as Power Demand Rises

28 Feb 2022  by   
Rising power demand has triggered coal shortage concerns in the power industry that say coal stocks at stations are not adding up at the required rate. Unprecedented prices of imported coal at $200 per tonne continue to burden domestic coal as dependent power stations are barely operating.


The maximum discovered price of power in the day-ahead market of Indian Energy Exchange for today touched the highest permitted limit of Rs 20 per unit, while the average stood at Rs 5 a unit. Sources said Gujarat and Maharashtra put together are buying 100 MUs power from the power exchanges.

As per official data, coal stocks are at 39% of the normative requirement under the power ministry's new norms. Data available with the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) showed the stocks to be at nearly 26 million tonnes (MT) on February 24, while the coal and power ministries had agreed to build 47 MT by March-end in preparation for summer and monsoon months. The power ministry has advised NTPC and DVC to arrange coal imports of 10% of their demand for blending, while IPPs and state gencos have been advised to import 4% of their requirement.However, an official said there is about 30 MT stock with power stations, at captive mine heads and in coal washeries, which will last for 15 days.

"Loading of coal by railways is at record high level, and the coal production too is unprecedented. However, electricity demand and need for coal is so high that the stocks are not rising," said the official.

The imported coal-fired power stations totalling 17 Gw are operating at an average 20% capacity. Of the 14 such plants, seven are not operating and three are running at 35% or less.

Availability of rail rakes is being seen as the biggest issue by the industry. Railways says there is no rake shortage and the loading will be increased to meet the demand.

"There is no shortage of rakes and no shortfall in loading of coal for power houses. In fact, in the current fiscal, from April till January, the Railways has loaded 335 rakes of coal for powerhouses, against fiscal-ago period in which 258 rakes were loaded. This represents an increase of 30% over corresponding period of last fiscal," said Gaurav Bansal, executive director, information and publicity, Ministry of Railways.


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