CHENNAI: The Union coal ministry has directed coal suppliers to prioritise shipments to thermal power plants with critically low coal stocks even as several have been forced to shut down after running dry.
“Secretary (Coal) has given specific instructions to the coal companies to give priority supplies to all the TPPs having critical stock level and to focus on stock liquidation from the mines having high stock level.
He has further directed that in case of availability issue at linked mines, alternative sources be allocated for smooth running of the plant. The despatches are being aligned with the advisories of Power Ministry,” the ministry said.
With economic recovery picking up momentum, India has witnessed high power demand through August. Peak daily power demand averaged around 192-193 MW during the month, but low coal stocks have hit power plants hard.
Data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) shows that 74 of the 135 monitored thermal power stations (95,527 MW of capacity) had eight days of coal stock or less as of August 30, with three plants reporting zero days of stock.
While some supplies have been disrupted due to the monsoons, Coal India (CIL) has also begun regulating coal shipments to power plants that have not paid their dues-around `17,000 crore at the end of July. As of August 30, CIL had restricted or regulated supply to 11 TPPs due to non-payment of dues, representing 13,295 MW worth of installed capacity.
Coal-driven thermal power plants account for over three-quarters of India’s electricity production and Coal India supplies over 80% of the coal supplied to the country’s TPPs.