No dark summer, record Coal India output ramps up coal stocks at power plants
For a change, power outages may not occur this summer. According to industry sources, unlike in the recent years, most of the country’s power plants are equipped with enough coal stocks to sustain the generation levels required to avert a crisis.
Coal availability with the power sector has improved substantially over the last six months due to the record production levels at Coal India’s (CIL) mines and last year’s double-digit growth in imports of the fuel, they added.
As per the data on the Central Electricity Authority’s website, as on April 8, only 11 power plants were in “critical/super-critical condition” with coal stocks to last less than seven days, compared with 66 in October last year. Of the 11 plants, five had coal stocks that would be used up in less than four days on April 8, to be termed super-critical.
The satisfactory coal stocks with power plants are despite some disruptions at the captive coal mines, which account for a sixth of the country’s total coal output, due to the cancellation of 204 mines by the Supreme Court, leading to their reallocation via auction.
In early September 2014, the country witnessed a severe power crisis with a a fifth of the country’s power generation capacity being out of service, due to technical glitches and fuel shortages. Peak demand met then was less than half of the installed capacity.
Coal India, which missed its production target for the last fiscal, managed to clock a 7% growth at 494 million tonnes (mt) in FY15, compared to 463 mt in FY14. That was the highest growth in CIL output in about two decades, industry watchers said. The PSU, which still enjoys a monopoly in commercial coal mining, has set a production target of 550 mt for the current fiscal is believed to be on course to meet the target of a billion tonne for FY20.