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Home News Power Sector News Power plants' coal stocks dip below 'critical' level

Power plants' coal stocks dip below 'critical' level

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CEAAverage coal stocks at India's thermal power plants have dipped below "critical" level, or are enough to last less than a week, against the norm of 22 days, mounting more pressure on electricity generating companies as they cannot afford to build stocks with imports because of low tariffs. Coal-fired power plants have been struggling with hand-to-mouth fuel supply for more than a month as floods, Telangana agitation and labour trouble choked supplies to power stations that have a capacity to generate 86,717 mw.

So far, the average stock position was equivalent to seven days requirement. Continuing scarcity has forced companies like NTPC, the country's biggest power producer, to consider long-term imports of LNG) and coal, hoping to get better prices than spot purchases.

Latest data from the Central Electricity Authority showed that on November 1, 89 plants with a total capacity of more than 40,000 mw had "supercritical" stocks, or not enough for even four days. Half of these had fuel supplies for one-two days and more than 8,500 mw of capacity is stranded with no fuel at all.

The government has stepped up the movement of rakes and directed state-run Coal India to take urgent steps to improve supplies. So far, these steps have prevented stocks from depleting rapidly, but power companies are looking for a long-term solution.

Top executives of country's largest power company NTPC recently met to discuss issues concerning availability of coal. The meeting involved company directors, regional heads, executive directors and projects heads across India, who deliberated on reducing capital, operational and maintenance costs and accelerating generation.

The company is exploring long-term import tie-ups for coal and re-gasified liquefied natural gas at lower price, an NTPC official said.

"The participants deliberated the way forward in the context of severe shortage of coal supply, poor quality of coal being received by NTPC stations, the issue concerning high price of imported coal and its impact on power generation cost. Several other issues of critical significance were also discussed," he said.

About 5,000-mw of company's generating stations were shut during September-end till mid-October due to acute coal shortage. Many of the company's projects are still operating with supercritical stock that would last less than four days.

Source- Economic Times


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