Barely 40 hours after Unit-I of the Vallur Thermal Power Plant began commercial operations, it went on the blink because of severe coal shortage. The plant ceased generation at 8.58 pm on December 1 and is expected to stay that way at least till December 10.
The scarcity was not unexpected, as its principle supplier, Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, had failed to make deliveries on time. To bridge the gap, the unit tried to borrow coal from the North Chennai Thermal Power Station, but the latter couldn’t lend as its stock too was low, said an official.
The 500 MW Unit-I requires 8,000 tonnes of indigenous coal per day. NTPC Tamil Nadu Energy Company Limited, which runs the unit, is a joint venture between NTPC and TNEB. Of the 500 MW it can generate, Tamil Nadu is entitled to 375 MW, which works out to 75% of its output. “We have written to the power ministry seeking the remaining 25% as well for Tamil Nadu in view of the huge power scarcity,” the official added.
Last month, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had flagged revival of power plants stranded due to want of fuel as a thrust area. “The urgent part is that the stranded power plants must be allowed to... or (we) have to find a way to produce power,” he said. As much as 8,000 MW is stranded for want of gas and 12,000 MW for want of coal. “If you can get this 20,000 MW up and running, it equals to one year’s target,” he said.