Power situation turns dire with 29 plants precariously low on coal

Anil Sasi New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

The worsening fuel shortage situation gripping the power sector.


Nearly 8,000 MW of thermal capacity is estimated to be affected

As many as 29 key thermal power stations are operating with coal stocks of less than four days. This translates into 41,022 MW of power generation capacity.

The worsening fuel shortage situation gripping the power sector is reflected in the sharp increase in thermal stations faced with bare minimum coal stocks. Usually, thermal plants operate with coal stocks for 21 days.

Of the 86 major thermal stations monitored for their coal stock position by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the number of those with coal stocks of less than a week has risen sharply from 36 stations in the beginning of this month to 44 by October 11. The count of stations with coal stocks of less than four days went up from 21 stations to 29 stations during the period.

With key thermal stations left without adequate fuel for normal operations, there has been an alarming rise in power disruptions across the country. With little signs of improvement in the situation, consumers may face more outages in the coming days as well.

While, generally, it takes between a week and 10 days to ensure availability of fresh consignment of coal in the case of stations with assured fuel linkages, the continuing nationwide coal crunch means stations will have to manage with precariously low stock for now.

Key triggers

The triggers include a combination of events:

Heavy overdrawing by the northern States, along with freak accidents that have derailed output at two major stations of NTPC Ltd;

Floods in States in the eastern region have further affected coal output; and

The ongoing strike at Singareni Collieries that has already dented production at several southern and western region power plants.

Apart from NTPC's Ramagundam and Simhadri units, which are facing major shortages, a unit of AP Genco's Vijayawada thermal station has been shut due to coal shortage. NTPC's Kahalgaon and Badarpur units are reported to have barely a day's stock.

In all, nearly 8,000 MW of thermal capacity is estimated to have been affected due to the coal strike and the shortages at NTPC stations, while there has been a drop of another 100 million units in hydro-generation due to the receding monsoon.

Published on October 13, 2011

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