Home / Economy / Coal-fired power plants with less than 4-day stock rise to 70 as blackouts loom

Coal shortage crisis at thermal power projects does not seem to abate very soon as the number of non-pit head plants with less than four days of dry fuel stock (supercritical stock) has increased to 70 this Sunday compared to 64 a week ago on October 3, as per government data.

India is facing an acute electricity crisis with just days of coal stocks left at power plants, the lowest in many years. Several regions across India have been hit by supply shortages in recent months, with utility providers resorting to unscheduled power cuts.

According to the latest coal stock data of the 135 plants with over 165 GW of installed generation capacity monitored by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as many 70 plants are categorised as supercritical stock or having less than four days of fuel on October 10, 2021, compared to 64 a week ago on October 3, 2021.

Coal accounts for nearly 70% of India's electricity generation and around three-quarters of the fossil fuel is mined domestically. Heavy monsoon rains have flooded coal mines and disrupted transport networks, leading to a sharp rise in prices for coal buyers, including power stations. International coal prices have also soared.

The data also showed that the number of non-pit head plants having less than seven days of fuel (critical stock) has also increased to 26 on Sunday from 25 such projects a week ago on October 3, 2021.

The government, seeking to allay the fears, said the country has ample coal stocks to meet the demand of its power plants. The current fuel stock at coal-powered plants is about 7.2 million tons, sufficient for four days.

Besides, the data also showed that the number of pit head as well as non-pit head plants, which had stock of dry fuel for up to one week, increased to 115 on this Sunday from 107 last week on October 3, 2021.

However, it showed that the situation at plants with zero day of dry fuel improved as there were 17 such plants with cumulative capacity of 16,430 MW on this Sunday compared to 17 plants with 21,325 MW capacity a week ago on October 3.

Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Power Minister R K Singh and Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi amid the ongoing coal shortage crisis at power plants.

During the hour-long meeting, the three ministers were believed to have discussed the availability of coal to power plants and the current power demands.

Top officials of the power and coal ministries attended the meeting.

A senior official said that the situation would further improve with the onset of autumn and ramped up coal supplies.

The official also stated the union power and coal secretaries would make a detailed presentation on the issue to the Principal Secretary, Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday.

This Sunday, 26 power plants with 34,930 MW capacity had fuel for one day compared to 20 plants with 22,550 MW a week ago.

Similarly, 22 plants with 27,325 had coal for two days on Sunday compared to 20 plants with 29,960 MW a week ago.

The number of plants having three days of coal were 18 with 24,094 MW capacity on Sunday compared to 19 plants with 22,000 MW a week ago.

As many as 13 plants with 15,210 MW capacity had coal for four days on Sunday compared to 15 plants with 16,890 MW a week ago. Those plants which had five days of coal stock on Sunday were 11 with 10,775 MW on Sunday compared to 6 plants with 7,174 MW.

The number of plants with six days of coal stock was eight with 11,450 MW capacity on Sunday compared to nine plants with 9,360 MW capacity a week ago.

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