The country faces constraints on domestic coal availability and the rest of the dry fuel demand has to be met by imports, according to the coal ministry.
The ministry also pointed out that coal block holders – both captive and commercial – have a major role to play in alleviating the coal shortage situation. National coal production is around 800 million tonnes, according to the additional coal secretary, who is also chairman of an interdepartmental group on coal linkages for the electricity sector.
The interdepartmental group met recently to review requests for coal links with central/state sector power plants and to review the status of existing coal links.
The additional coal secretary said that “there are constraints in the national availability of coal and the national coal production is approximately 800 MT”.
“Therefore, the rest of the country’s coal demand must be met by imports from other countries,” according to the minutes of the meeting on energy links.
Coal Secretary AK Jain had previously attributed the low coal inventories at power stations to several factors such as increased demand for electricity due to the post-COVID-19 boom in the economy, the early arrival of in the summer, a rise in the price of gas and imported coal and a sharp drop in electricity production by coastal thermal power stations.
He added that a series of measures were already underway to improve the country’s total power supply.
Gas-based electricity production which has dropped drastically in the country has aggravated the crisis.
Coastal thermal power plants are now producing around half of their capacity due to the sharp rise in the price of imported coal. This results in a gap between demand and supply of electricity.
The secretary further said that the states in the south and west are dependent on imported coal. And when domestic coal is shipped by railcars/rakes to the national coal-fired power plants in these states to compensate for the loss of production of imported coal, the turnaround time for the rakes is over 10 days, which creates problems of availability of rakes for other plants. .
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