The coal supply in the power plants across the country is likely to improve, the Central Government stated on Saturday, after several states, including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, raised issues over coal blackouts.
In a statement on Saturday, the Power Ministry stated four reasons that were creating shortages of coal supply across various states — unprecedented increase in demand for electricity due to the revival of the economy; heavy rains in coal mine areas during September, 2021, that has adversely affected the coal production as well as despatch of coal from mines; increase in prices of imported coal leading to substantial reduction in power generation; non-building of adequate coal stocks before the onset of monsoon.
An inter-ministerial sub-group led by the Ministry of Coal has been monitoring the coal stock situation in the country twice a week.
In order to manage the coal stock and ensure equitable distribution of coal, the Ministry of Power (MOP) constituted a Core Management Team (CMT) on August 27, comprising of representatives from the MOP, Central Electricity Authority, Power System Operation Corporation Limited, Railways and Coal India Limited (CIL) to ensure daily monitoring. The CMT is closely monitoring and managing the coal stocks on a daily basis and ensuring follow-up actions with CIL and Railways to improve the coal supply to power plants, according to the statement.
The ministry and CIL have assured that they are making their best efforts to increase dispatch to the power sector to 1.6 million tonnes or MT per day in the next three days and thereafter try to reach 1.7 MT per day.
The ministry said, “It is likely to help in the gradual build up of coal stocks at the power plant in the near future. The coal supply as well as the consequent power situation is likely to improve.”
The daily consumption of electricity has crossed beyond 4 billion units per day and 65 per cent to 70 per cent demand is being met by coal-fired power plants only, increasing dependence on coal. A surge in the revival of the economy after the second wave of Covid-19, led to an unprecedented increase in demand and consumption of electricity.
The import of coal has decreased in comparison to 2019-20 due to import substitution and rising prices of imported coal. The reduction of imported coal is compensated by domestic coal for power generation, hence increasing the demand for domestic coal further. As compared to 2019, there has been 43.6 per cent reduction in power generation from imported coal which led to extra demand of 17.4 MT of domestic coal during April-September, 2021, according to the press release.
The Ministry of Power issued guidelines on Friday for operationalizing optimum utilization of generating stations as per the requirements in the Electricity Grid. These guidelines will enable imported coal based plants (having sufficient coal) to operate and ease out the burden on domestic coal, the MOP stated.