NEW DELHI: The coal stock of 57 thermal power plants representing about 21% of the total production capacity of the country has become “critical” or “super critical” in a context of increasing demand for electricity, which prompted the Ministry of Energy to regulate for a week the fuel supply of power stations which have stocks for 14 days so that stocks can be constituted in units facing a crisis.
Documents from the Central Electricity Authority show five power plants with “zero” coal stocks and operating on daily supplies. Six factories have a one-day buffer stock, while 15 factories have inventories for three days, 13 factories for four days, four factories for five days, three stations for six days, and two units have stocks for one week. Industry executives attribute low fuel inventories to insufficient supply and a lack of advance planning in anticipation of increased demand for electricity. But Coal India Ltd, which accounts for 80% of national production, blamed the reduction in stocks on producers who ignored its advice given since October 2020 to stock up for the summer and monsoon when demand. electricity increases.
A CIL executive told TOI that the company supplied 196.6 MT (million tonnes) of coal to the power sector during the period April to August, 6.5% more than 184 MT during the same period before the 2019 pandemic. “Stock of coal in power plants was 24 MT at the end of July, almost at the same level as stocks of the previous five years. It could have been higher if the producers had not regulated the levies, ”said the executive.
Arguments indicate that no one prepared for the strong recovery in demand for electricity or placed too much emphasis on renewables. Electricity demand increased 8% and 12% in the third and fourth quarters of 2020-2021 and continues, jumping 18% in July. As a result, the average load factor of thermal power plants also exceeded 60%, dropping by about 52% at the drop in hydel production.
Energy Secretary Alok Kumar has set up a central management committee with representatives from the Ministry of Energy, CEA and CIL for daily monitoring of the situation. A ministry statement says power plants have been asked to send requests for priority charging or supply issues to a centralized email id so they can be dealt with quickly.

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