In an effort to tackle outages and boost the depleting stocks at power plants, the government has asked thermal units to blend 10% imported coal. The coal and power ministries are to look at ways to further enhance supplies.
In a review meeting, the secretaries of coal and power ministries told the Prime Minister’s Office that coal dispatches to power plants have exceeded daily consumption. According to sources, coal dispatches to thermal power plants rose to 1.95 million tonnes on October 11 against a consumption of 1.9 million tonnes. Dispatches are expected to increase to two million tonnes a day and the situation is expected to improve.
The coal and power ministries are working round the clock to contain the crisis as electricity consumption is expected to remain high for a few more days. On Tuesday, the power ministry directed thermal power plants to blend 10% imported coal due to fast-depleting coal inventories at power stations. Sources pointed out that all thermal power plants can accommodate nearly 20% imported coal, but the practice was stopped about four to five years ago due to increased availability of domestic coal and less generation capacity utilization.
Union Coal Minister Prahlad Joshi told ANI that there has been no let-up in coal supply across India and assured there won’t be any shortage amid concerns over power blackouts. “We have continued our supply, even continued in the past despite dues. We are requesting them (states) to increase stocks. There won’t be a coal shortage,” he said. “Due to rains, there was coal shortage causing an increase in international prices from Rs 60 per ton to Rs 190 per ton. Subsequently, imported coal power plants are either shut for 15-20 days or producing very less. This put pressure on domestic coal.”
Joshi assured that adequate supply has been maintained to ensure there is no shortage of coal in the country. “As far as states are concerned, this year till June, we requested them to increase stock, some of them went on to say that ‘please do a favor, don’t send coal now’,” he said.
The power ministry has asked states to utilize unallocated power of the central generating stations (CGS) to meet the requirements of their own consumers amid the ongoing coal shortage crisis in the country. The ministry shared concerned that some states are not supplying power to their consumers and imposing load shedding. “At the same time, they are also selling power in the power exchange at high price.”
15% power from CGS, as per the guidelines for allocation of power, is kept as ‘unallocated power’ which is allocated by the central government to needy states to meet the requirement of power of the consumers.