Power units need 10 MT imported coal this fiscal
Power plants need 40 million tonnes of domestic coal for adequate stocks which need to be built starting October, according to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
As per CEA’s assessment, the 10 million tonnes are required to make up for the generation loss due to non-operalisation of 17 GW that are dependent completely on imported coal, priced at $160 per tonne currently.
Industry experts expect international coal prices to remain high for a few more months. CEA has laid out a month-wise coal requirement plan by power stations in preparation for the summer months.
As per the estimates a total 398 million tonnes of domestic coal is required by the power plants, including for building 40 million tonnes inventory. Another 10 million tonnes is required to meet 30% shortfall electricity generation so far by the imported coal-based units.
While Coal India is expected to meet 338 million tonnes, the captive coal mines are expected to produce 40 million tonnes and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) another 30 million tonnes.
The power industry is not very confident of domestic coal companies being able to meet the targets. State-run NTPC and DVC have floated tenders seeking two million tonnes imported coal following a directive by the power ministry asking companies to use it for blending purposes to meet a shortfall in domestic coal. However, the coal ministry is upbeat about exporting coal by mid-next fiscal year.
According to a top coal ministry official, domestic coal production will be upwards of 900 million tonnes in the next financial year including about 100 million tonnes from captives and 75 million from SCCL and the balance 725 million tonnes from CIL against around 700 million tonnes in FY21.
Amid the coal stock crisis at plants, power companies alleged Coal India was 9% short of its production targets and 18% less than despatch targets during the period between April-September this year.
The official said CIL had a record 99 million tonnes stock on April 1 this year, forcing the company to lower its production. “In July-September CIL has done record production and offtake. When Gencos were not lifting what happens to the target? What is material is CIL has the coal to supply,” he said.
India is in the grip of a power crisis with plants running low on fuel as demand rose while rains hit domestic coal supplies and costly imported fuel rendered nearly 18 GW capacity unviable.
Data available till October 24 showed that plants of 165-GW monitored power capacity had five days of average coal stock. Nearly 76 Gw of the capacity was operating on coal stock of less than four days.