India’s acute coal shortages spark concerns of a nationwide blackout

Over half of India’s 135 coal-fired power plants, which provide about 70% of the country’s electricity, are running on less than three days’ tank of supplies.

India is facing an impending energy crisis due to record-high coal prices and excessive rains.

Supply shortages have impacted many states and territories, with utility companies resorting to unplanned power outages.

The states and territories affected by the acute scarcity issues include Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Due to a lack of coal, three thermal power plants in Punjab, four in Kerala, and 13 in Maharashtra have closed, according to India Today.

State governments begin to feel the heat of coal shortages

The chief ministers of Karnataka and Punjab have asked for an increase in coal supplies to their respective states.

The Maharashtra energy department has asked residents to save electricity, while the Kerala government has warned that load-shedding may be necessary.

Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene so that coal and gas may be redirected to power plants.

Centre says that there is sufficient supply to fulfil demand

The Government of India stated on Sunday that it has enough coal to satisfy the demand of its power plants.

The current fuel supply at coal-fired power plants is around 7.2 million tonnes, which is enough for four days, according to the coal ministry.

Coal India, a government-owned mining company, has a stockpile of more than 40 million tonnes of coal that it supplies to power plants.

CEAI data about coal stocks concerning

Despite government authorities confirming that enough coal is available to satisfy power plant demands and electricity supply, more than half of the country’s facilities have been placed on outage alert, raising fears about the power supply.

According to statistics from the Central Electricity Authority of India (CEAI), the country is experiencing an unprecedented scarcity of coal inventories in thermal plants, potentially resulting in a power outage.

On October 5, 106, or roughly 80%, of the 135 thermal plants that use coal for electricity generation were in the critical or supercritical stage, meaning they only had supplies for the next 6-7 days.

As a matter of fact, many power plants in the country are running coal for as little as two days. Over half of India’s 135 coal-fired power plants, which provide roughly 70% of the country’s electricity, have barely enough fuel to last three days.

Factors that contribute to the coal shortage in India

Coal has recently become a priceless commodity in a red-hot market with a price increase of over 100%, fueled mostly by China and India. Steelmakers are likely to raise prices and reduce output due to the high cost of coking coal.

Following the second wave of Coronavirus earlier this year, India’s industrial electricity usage skyrocketed. The country’s electricity consumption grew by 13.2 per cent in the first eight months of 2021.

The unexpected increase occurred after electricity consumption fell for the first time in over three decades in 2020 as a result of a Coronavirus-induced slowdown.

Also, Coal India requests that utilities stock up on coal before the start of the monsoon season when rains make transportation and output of raw materials problematic. Despite this, many coal companies were unable to adequately stockpile due to a shortage of local coal and a record high in imported coal.

As demand for these fuels increased, so did their worldwide prices. As a result, India, the world’s second-largest coal importer, producer, and consumer, might suffer a nationwide blackout.

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