India recorded a power supply shortage of 1,201 million units in October 2021 — the highest in 5.5 years — due to a crunch in coal stocks available with thermal plants.
The shortage was mostly restricted to Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab and Rajasthan.
In October, Gujarat recorded a power shortage of 215 million units, the highest for any month in more than a decade. With a shortage of 77 million units, Jharkhand too recorded its highest deficit in more than a decade.
Bihar recorded 120 million units of shortage in October, the highest for any month in 8.5 years.
Haryana saw 113 million units of shortage, the highest in about nine years. Punjab’s deficit stood at 121 million units, the highest in seven years. Rajasthan witnessed 242 million units of power shortage last month, the highest in over nine years.
Supply shortage was also observed in Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in October, however, they were not an anomaly but were similar to the general trend observed in the regions.
The power shortage was primarily due to a supply crunch of coal to 135 thermal plants. As on November 5, the average coal inventory held by the plants would last only seven days. The average stock position had marginally become better from the levels seen in mid-October when less than four days of supply was available. In comparison, the normative stock required on an average is over 21 days. The last time the average stock was near the requirement level was in mid-June, and since then, it has declined rapidly.
As on November 5, about 32 plants have less than four days of coal stock. Sixty-five plants have between four and nine days of stock. About 35 plants have between 10 and 19 days of stock.
As on November 5, in the inventories of all the 135 plants, only 1.45 lakh tonnes of actual stock of coal is imported. This is a far cry from the 15.43 lakh tonnes of imported coal available in the stock in February 2020. A sharp increase in the international coal price led to a decrease in imports.
On Monday, while addressing the 47th foundation day of Coal India Ltd, Union Minister for Coal Pralhad Joshi pointed out that international coal price had increased more than three times recently, which resulted in a 38% decrease in imports. At the same time, electricity demand had gone up by more than 24%, the Minister added.
Mr. Joshi urged Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries to “make all-out efforts to ensure at least 18 days of coal stock with thermal plants by November end this year.”
Historical data were compiled from the Central Electricity Authority, and October 2021 data were compiled from day-wise reports available with the National Load Despatch Centre.
(With inputs from Jasmin Nihalani and Sumant Sen. Data compiled by Pratap Vardhan, Stats of India and Karthik Dhandapani, IIM Trichy)