Load shedding is being feared citing the decline in coal supply in the country. There was a stir when Tata Power feared load shedding by sending a message to domestic consumers in Delhi. On the other hand, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Amidst all kinds of speculations, Union Energy Minister RK Singh held a press conference on Sunday and said in clear words that there was no shortage of electricity in the country, neither is there nor will there be.
central government assurance
However, he also admitted that earlier the power generation companies used to have coal reserves of 17 days which has come down to 4 days. In such a situation, there is a doubt whether there will be enough supply of electricity when the demand increases very much during Diwali, the festival of lights, or whether Diwali will not be celebrated in the dark only for a short time in some areas of the country? Let us try to find the answer to this question by understanding the connection of coal and electricity.
More dependence on coal for electricity
In fact, the power generation industry in the country is heavily dependent on coal. The country has a total power generation capacity of 388 GW of which 54% i.e. 208.8 GW of electricity is generated from coal based plants. Last year, the country produced 1,125.2 terawatt-hours of electricity from coal. According to the data of the Central Electricity Authority, of the 135 major coal-fired power plants in the country, as on October 4, more than half of the plants had less than three days of coal reserves left. Union Energy Minister RK Singh on Sunday also said that at present the power plants have only four-and-a-half days of coal reserves left, but they are getting coal equal to the daily consumption.
where does coal come from
Keep in mind that most of the total coal consumption in the country is supplied by domestic production. Domestic company Coal India Limited (CIL) is the world’s largest coal mining company which produces about 84% of the thermal coal of the country. The rest of the coal is exported from abroad. Coal reserves depleted in the April-June quarter as the second wave of corona at that time had a tremendous impact on mining. Then the mining work gets affected even in the monsoon rains. Here, the country’s coal mining was decreasing, while on the other hand the price of coal in foreign countries touched a record high. For example, in Indonesia, the price of coal in March was $ 60 a tonne, which rose to $ 200 a tonne in September. Due to this the companies did not show enthusiasm about imports.
Why is there talk of power crisis
Every year the demand for electricity increases in the month of October, but this year the matter is different. In fact, in the last two months, the country’s economy has almost completely opened up, which was stalled due to the restrictions of Covid for the last 18 months. Electricity consumption reached 124.2 billion units per month in the two months of August-September as against 106.6 billion units per month in both the same months of 2019. Keep in mind that the Covid Pandemic did not start in the months of August-September 2019. During this period, electricity generation from coal increased from 61.91% in 2019 to 66.35% this year. In this context, coal consumption increased by 18% in August-September this year as compared to 2019.
In Maharashtra, 13 units of seven thermal plants have closed. However, Vijay Singhal, MD, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) dismissed the possibility of power shortage. There is no apprehension of load shedding at least for the next 15 days, he added. He said, “Maharashtra produces about 14,000 MW of thermal power. Due to shortage of coal, we have to buy power from the power exchange up to Rs 20 per unit. According to a senior official, 3,330 MW of power supply has been cut in Maharashtra. At the same time, Delhi’s Energy Minister Satyendar Jain also says that at present the state has to buy electricity at the rate of up to Rs 20 per unit.
On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh Energy Minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar claimed that there is no power crisis and the state is in a better position in terms of power. He said on Sunday that the state government has also floated tenders to buy eight metric tonnes of coal for its power plants. Claiming to meet the state’s daily power demand, Tomar said here, “The power crisis is at the national level and Madhya Pradesh is in a better position in this regard.”
What is being done to avert the crisis
Coal India Limited (CIL) was supplying 1.4 million tonnes of coal per day earlier this month, which is working towards meeting the target of supplying 1.5 million tonnes per day from October 7. Coal India Limited (CIL) and National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC Ltd.) are engaged in increasing coal production. In addition, the government is looking to restore production in a few more coal mines. Also, it has been decided to import coal from abroad despite record increase in international price. However, the festive season is also ahead in which the demand for electricity is going to increase further. In such a situation, it can be said that by the end of this month, there may be a slight problem of supply compared to the demand of electricity.