The Coal Ministry on Wednesday said that demand for the critical commodity rose by 7.30 per cent on an annual basis so far in the current financial year, which is an all-time high record, as India faces its longest spell of heat wave in history driving up demand for electricity.

The consumption by domestic coal-based power plants stood at 183.61 million tonnes during April-June 15, from 171.15 mt a year-ago, while daily consumption rose to 2.42 mt from 2.25 mt.

Despite the “extremely high” demand for power, coal stocks at thermal power plants (TPPs) remain robust, exceeding 45 mt as on June 16, which is around 31.71 per cent Y-o-Y, the Ministry said.

Sufficient stocks

The overall coal stock in the country — at mines, in transit and at power plants — is more than 144.68 mt, ensuring a sufficient coal supply to the power sector, it added.

The Railways has ensured 10 per cent average growth in the daily availability of railway rakes, with an average of 428.40 rakes per day supplied daily as of June 16.

The evacuation through coastal shipping has also experienced significant growth. Traditionally, coal was transported via Paradip port only, but now, under proper coordination as per the coal logistics policy, the commodity is also being evacuated through Dhamra and Gangavaram ports.

The infrastructural augmentation in the railway network has notably improved the movement of rakes from Son Nagar to Dadri, resulting in more than a 100 per cent improvement in turnaround time, the Ministry noted.

Cumulative output

As on June 16, the cumulative coal production stood at 207.48 mt, a growth of 9.27 per cent Y-o-Y. Coal India (CIL) recorded coal production of 160.25 mt, growing by 7.28 per cent on an annual basis.

Similarly, coal production from captive and commercial mines reached 33 mt, with a growth of 27 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.

The cumulative coal dispatch stood at 220.31 mt as on June 16 with a growth of 7.65 per cent Y-o-Y. CIL recorded 166.58 mt in dispatches, growing by over 4 per cent annually.

Coal dispatch from captive and commercial mines was recorded at 39.45 MT, with a growth of 30 per cent Y-o-Y. Dispatch to the power sector stands at 180.35 MT, reflecting a growth of 5.71 per cent compared to 170.61 MT last year.

Rising power demand

The April-June 2024 period has been marked by sweltering temperatures coupled with intense heat waves across north India leading to a higher requirement for cooling, which is pushing up the demand for electricity.

For instance, Delhi on Wednesday recorded a record peak power demand of 8.67 GW, up from Tuesday’s peak of 8.65 GW as temperatures hit the 45°Celsius mark.

The higher requirement for electricity can be gauged from the fact that India’s power consumption has been growing at over 10 per cent. During April, it rose by 11 per cent Y-o-Y, while the growth in May was steeper at 15 per cent Y-o-Y.

Intense temperatures have led to an unprecedented rise in power demand, which clocked an all-time high of 250 GW in May and again hit 240 GW on Monday. What is driving demand is that atmospheric temperatures are running high even in the evening.

Council on Energy, Environment and Water Senior Programme Lead Vishwas Chitale explained that IMD data show North Indian cities like Delhi have been experiencing heatwave conditions for over a month, with temperatures consistently exceeding 40°C. This is now the longest heatwave in Indian history.

 “This year has also seen record-breaking warm nights, with Alwar recording a minimum temperature of 37°C and Delhi nearly 35°C, which is nearly 5°C more than normal. These high night time temperatures pose serious health concerns, as they prevent cooling down from the daytime heat,” he added.