Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government-owned power generation utility AP Power Generation Corp. Ltd, or APGenco, said it only has enough coal to generate power for a day in some of its plants, and a week in some others, because of bottlenecks in transportation of the fuel—a significant cause for concern for consumers of power in the state.
APGenco has a total generation capacity of 6,761MW, of which 3,173MW is thermal power (generated largely from coal). It expects to add capacity to generate 8,963MW of power, including 4,730MW of thermal power, by 2012.
Significantly, it isn’t the shortage of coal that has hit ApGenco, but transportation problems. The company has lined up adequate supplies of coal, but it turns out that its plants do not have the equipment to unload coal from a common type of rake (a group of wagons) the railways now uses to transport it.
APGenco managing director Ajay Jain admitted stocks were running perilously low but added that power generation was yet to be affected. “But it has become a day-to-day survival for the last four weeks or so where we are unable to build ground stocks,” he said.
APGenco’s coal-based units need around 18 million tonnes (mt) of the fuel a year. The company has lined up 11mt from Singareni Collieries Co. Ltd and 7mt from Mahanandi Coalfields Ltd.
“Our problem is not with the supply of coal from the two coal companies...both of which are ensuring that adequate stocks were available. It is the inadequate infrastructure for transportation of coal by the railways coupled with absence of coal-handling equipment with us that has resulted in alarmingly low levels of coal stocks now,” said Jain.
The railways is unable to provide adequate number of a type of rake, called N-type rake, for coal supplies, whereas APGenco’s power facilities can handle only such rakes. The railways prefer another type of rake, called BOBR rake, from which it takes just two hours to unload the coal compared with four hours for the N-type rake. This ensures faster turnaround and means railways can move more freight.
Acknowledging that setting up infrastructure to handle BOBR rakes is the lasting solution, Jain said that meanwhile, the utility was trying to get the required coal from Mahanandi Coalfields through sea, from Paradip port to Chennai and then to the Rayalaseema Thermal Power Project.
APGenco is also investing about Rs30 crore on coal-handling infrastructure that can unload coal from BOBR rakes. The equipment is expected to be operational by the end of the year, said Jain.