Power crisis looms as coal stocks run low

  • Anupama Airy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 18, 2014 00:15 IST

India is staring at a major power crisis in the coming months as 50% of the country’s thermal power plants are running on very low coal stock of less than four days or even lesser.

India uses coal to generate more than half of its electricity.

The northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttrakhand could be the worst hit and may have to deal with a net deficit of 1,792 megawatt (mw) in power availability in August.

Uttar Pradesh is likely to have a power deficit of 1,948 mw, followed by Punjab (558 mw), according to data available with the power ministry.

Some states such as Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana among others have surplus power.

As many as 47 out of the 100 coal-based power stations are running stocks of less than seven days, figures from Central Electricity Authority show. These plants are mainly affected due to lesser supplies from Coal India and its subsidiaries.

Adding to the already existing woes is poor monsoon and the biting summer heat. The Central Water Commission’s latest figures reveal that water levels in 85 major reservoirs monitors have almost halved in one month. Almost 31 hydel projects are generating power at about 35% of their total capacity.

India’s largest power generating company, NTPC Ltd, has already issued a warning to the Centre as coal stocks at six of its thermal power stations generating around 17,000 mw are running less than two days of stock.

NTPC has warned that the situation could only worsen as “with the ensuing monsoons, it will become more difficult to replenish coal stocks and in case of even small disruptions, total power generation at these stations will be adversely affected.”

“It is a known fact that there is a problem of adequate coal in several power plants across the country but if we analyse this problem you will realise that since 2009 it is only aggravating,” power minister Piyush Goyal said.

“India produced 492 million tonnes of coal in 2008-09. Today, the production is only 565.6 mt, a growth of only 73 mt in five years.” Goyal said, adding that the government was taking steps to improve the situation in 1-3 years.

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