Government measures accelerate coal-based power output, avoid major blackouts


New Delhi: Coal-based power generation has risen sharply this month as the Ministries of Power, Coal and Railways have made integrated bids to improve power supply to power stations from local sources and imports, preventing large-scale blackouts.
The latest available government data as of May 17 shows that daily production from domestic coal-based plants has increased by more than 31% to 3,244 MU (million units) this month from 2,465 MU throughout the month of May 2021.
Daily production of domestic coal-based plants combining local fuels with imported coal has more than doubled to 143 MU from 66 MU recorded in May last year.
This supports the power ministry’s move to ask states and generation companies to import coal to supplement the availability of domestic fuel as growth in power demand increases by huge margins in production, pushing the railway infrastructure to the limit.
Similarly, due to pressure on imports and intervention of the Ministry of Energy to resolve commercial issues between the states with purchase agreements with imported coal based plants, production from such plants increased by 10% to 160 MU from 145 MU in the same period. The month of 2021.
Overall, production based on imported coal increased by 43% to 303 MU in May 2021 from 211 MU.
While growth in generation has helped keep power shortfalls from getting worse, the real test of the measures taken by the government is ahead as fuel stocks at power plants remain low.
The Ministry of Power sees peak demand of 210-220 GW (gigawatts), which is possible during the humid period between July and September when monsoon affects coal mining and dispatch.
The sudden surge in electricity demand due to the early summer – and intensification – with strong recovery in economic activity, created inconsistencies between the speed at which coal is consumed and the supply reaches the power plant.
Coal India, which supplies 80% of the fuel for production, produced a record 622 million tonnes in 2021-22, an increase of 4.4%. But power demand rose about 15% in April and remains at the same level.
“I am not worried about today, I am worried about the monsoon. Today there is no shortage of coal to generate power. Like I’m getting my daily supply. If we do not increase the supply, I will have a shortage of coal in the monsoon. We have reserves of about 19.5 million tons. If I had 35-40 million tonnes, that would be great, “Power Minister RK Singh told TOI earlier this week.

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