India, the world’s second largest coal consumer, on Friday surpassed the milestone of producing one billion tonnes of coal and lignite.

The world’s second largest producer, after China, also surpassed FY23’s coal and lignite production of 937.22 million tonnes (mt) — twenty-five days in advance.

Terming it as a “historical high”, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said the achievement of 1 billion tonnes in coal and lignite production will ensure that lights are on in citizens’ houses even as the coal sector continues to power up the economy.

“Mission 1 billion tonne was a milestone we had put in action a few years ago considering the burgeoning electricity requirements of our nation. This is a historic milestone in India’s quest for energy security under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The achievement of 1 billion tonne in coal and lignite production will ensure the lights are on in citizens’ houses even as the coal sector continues to power up the economy,” he added.,

Increasing output

On March 6, India’s coal production not just surged past the milestone 900 mt, but also surpassed the FY23 output of 893.19 mt — twenty-seven days in advance. Besides, it also achieved the output of 700 mt, on February 6 — 30 days in advance compared to last fiscal year.

The country’s monthly coal production exceeded 100 mt for the first time in March 2023, totalling 107 mt. In January 2024, the monthly output hit 99.73 mt.

The Ministry’s focus on increasing production, particularly from captive and commercial mines, is to meet the growing demand for coal from the power and industrial sectors. India’s power demand is expected to grow at 6-7 per cent per annum and the dry fuel accounts for around 70 per cent of the electricity generated in the country.

International Energy Agency (IEA) in its December 2023 coal report said that demand in India, which accounted for 14 per cent of global demand, is expected to rise by 3.5 per cent annually till 2026 topping 1,397 mt. It estimates a moderate increase in coal for power generation of 69 mt to 2026, the total reaching 1,006 mt.

India becomes the driving force behind the upward pressure on global coal demand through to 2026, even if the global trend is decided in China, the agency noted.

Suffiient stocks

India currently boasts a substantial coal stockpile, with around 96 mt available with coal companies. Besides, domestic coal-based (DCB) thermal power plants (TPPs) maintain coal stocks of 46.25 mt as of March 20, 2024.

The coal stocks on March 21 at TPPs stood at 49.2 mt, which is sufficient for 21 days. The stocks at Coal India (CIL), on March 22, was 82.3 mt.

The Ministry has assured that it has made ample preparations to supply coal to power plants for the peak summer season.

Speaking to businessline on February 27, Coal Secretary Amrit Lal Meena said, “As on February 25, the total stock is 127.30 mt. So, we have already crossed the closing stock of April 2023. If you look at the stocks at TPP end, last year (April 2023) was 34.57 mt, while this year it is 41.01 mt. So, this is a significant increase. About 30 per cent extra stock is likely to happen. This 127.30 mt will go up to somewhere around 150 mt. The stocks at TPP end will go up to 43-44 mt.”