The pinch of heavy September rain in the states like West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand (the coal-rich states) is being felt in October. The coal production in the country last month had been 51.7 million tonnes, which is 33 per cent higher than production in September 2020.
Still, as per the Union Power Ministry report, the coal-fired power generation companies in the country are left with a coal stock of only 4-days, when the normative requirement is 15-30 days. The numbers tell the tale of the coal power play in the country.
Why On Verge of Plug Out?
As per the data available with the Ministry of Coal, the coal crisis in October is due to a dip in coal production in September.
A look at the production data shows the country had produced over 53 million tonnes (MT) of coal in August 2021, but the production dipped by 4 per cent to 51.7 MT in September.
The double whammy seems to have struck the country. While production dipped in September, the power consumption touched a high of 124.2 billion units last month.
Though the country saw the peak demand rising to 200 gigawatt (GW) in July 2021, the production then had adequately met the high demand.
But as per the Ministry of Power forecast , the peak demand in India will be again rising to 200 GW in October, in the backdrop of depleted coal supply, huge power cuts are being feared in the coming days in October. In September, the peak demand was over 190 GW.
October 10: Actual Power Play In India
Data with the Union Power Ministry shows the peak demand on Sunday ( a holiday) today has been 164 GW. The peak shortage is estimated at a high of 8337 MW. The maximum shortfall in meeting the peak demand has been recorded in the northern region.
As per the data, a peak shortage of 1422 MW has been reported in the eastern region - where Odisha figures out as a prominent member state.
Power Play In Odisha
The peak demand in Odisha had increased from around 5062 MW in September to around 5344 MW on October 10 (Sunday). This shows a sharp rise in power demand in the State due to the ongoing festive season plus the unlock.
Though the GRIDCO power supply position claims no peak demand shortfall in Odisha as of date, the coal crisis may stir up a power crisis in the near future
In Odisha, the total installed capacity has been over 8594 MW. And thermal (coal-fired plants) accounts for a share of over 68 percent. A crisis in coal supply may have a heavy impact on State's overall power generation and supply position.
Coal Stock In Odisha Thermal Plants
All seems not well in the State. Data shows 3 TPPs (thermal power plants) in Odisha in the critical and supercritical category - means the coal stocks left for few days only. Unless, unless the supply-side improves, the power rationing or say power cuts set to rule the streets and homes in the State.
While the Kamalanga TPP has been listed as supercritical, the IB Valley and Sterlite have a critical status.
As per sources in Odisha Power Department, the coal stock left in Kamalanga TPP (private sector) is for 1-day only, only a 3-day stock is left in IB Valley TPP (state-owned) and for 6 days in Sterlite TPP (private owned). The normative stock each TPP should have ranges from 15-20 days.
For Talcher TPP (centrally owned), only 10-days stock left. it's 6-day stock for Darlipali super thermal power plant (STPP) (central govt owned)
Only Derang TPP sits comfortably as it has a 38-day stock leftout.
"The depleting coal stock in IB Valley is attributed to less supply of coal from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd," said highly placed sources and further claimed that the plant has own captive mines and efforts are on to ramp up the production.
The poor status of Darlipali STPP is attributed to drop in coal supply from Coal India Limited (CIL), as per the supply of bridge linkage to the plant.
The private plants purchase coals. Lower production and high coal price are set to cast a major impact in power production in the private plants, feel power experts here.
Solution In Sight?
October may see a power crisis. As per the Union power ministry, the situation will improve by October end, as the CIL and SCCL (Singerni Collieries Company Ltd) can increase their production by that time.
However, the rider here is, if the weather (cyclonic systems predicted in Bay of Bengal) plays spoilsport again in coal-rich states (WB, Odisha and Jharkhand), then 'dark age' is certain to rule the State for longer.