As summer hots up and industrial production picks up after the Covid-19 pandemic, India is facing a power crisis due to lack of adequate coal supplies. Coal availability at 61% or 106 out of 173 coal fired power plants have turned 'critical' (as of April 20 with less than 25% of normative coal stock), says data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

These plants with a generation capacity of 2,02,678 megawatt (MW) meeting 65% of the country's electricity demand, require 2,740 thousand tonnes (TT) of coal a day. Now they have a stock of only 22,012 TT, only 33% of the normative requirement of 66,329 TT. The coal stocks with these generation companies are fast depleting, as India's power generation in April until yesterday was 88,839 billion units (BU), 3.03% more than the targeted production till date in April.

India's leading power generator NTPC with over 55,500 MW capacity at 30 units, has 8,782 TT stocks and 53% of the normative requirement of 16,642 TT. About 12 NTPC plants are now in the critical category. Ten of its plants are pitheads (set up near mines) and have adequate supplies. The company is planning to divert rakes to plants having critical coal situations.

The situation is acute for most of the state-run plants. The West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd's (WBPDCL) five units with nearly 5,000 MW have only 5% of normative coal availability. Coal availability is same for most other state sector units like Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGDC)'s four units - 6%, Maharashtra State Power Generation Company's nearly 10,000 MW units - 15%, two state-run power generation cos in Andhra Pradesh - 13%, Karnataka - 12%, Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited - 12%, Madhya Pradesh Power Generation Company Limited - 13%, Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam - 21% and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited - 23%.

About 30 out of 53 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) now have 'critical' coal availability. These companies, with an overall 1,82,391 MW capacity, require normative stocks of 61,121 TT, but have only 34% availability at 20,654 MW. While about nine plants with 3,566 MW capacity including the 1,350 MW Nasik plant are currently not operational due to various reasons, coal availability at 11 out of 14 plants designed to use 30% imported coal are also 'critical'. These units are planning to increase coal imports. Exceptions are Tata Power's Mundra Ultra Power Project (UMPP) which has a coal stock of 929.4 TT as against a normative requirement of 848 TT, Trombay power plant and one unit of Torangallu power plant.

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