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Weak monsoon and coal crunch hit power production in India

Coal News - Published on Sat, 19 Jul 2014

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With NTPC, India's largest thermal power producer, pressing the panic button on increasing power demand and dwindling coal supply, CIL has diverted half of its coal production for e-auctioning to thermal power producers.

A senior CIL official said that "After the minister (Mr Piyush Goyal, minister for coal, power and renewable energy) directed us to increase the coal supply to the thermal power plants, we have taken several steps. One being reducing the amount of coal to be sold through e-auction to 26 million tonnes from the usual 52 million tonnes, to be made available for coal-based power plants."

Mr Goyal had last week asked the coal producer to improve the quality of coal supplied to thermal power producers. He had also asked them to increase the quantum of the fuel being supplied.

Owing to weak rainfall during the ongoing monsoon season, there are apprehensions about the production of hydro-power plants. The power demand, as NTPC officials said, is on an upswing due to elongated summers and deficient rainfall.

Last month, the total power demand of the country was 142,647 MW, of which 137,352 MW was met. There was also a peak power deficit of 3.7% during the same period. In Delhi alone, power demand touched a historic high of 5,925 MW on Tuesday. This was two-and-a-half times the demand in Bihar (2,750 MW).

A senior executive at NTPC said that "From mid-June to September, our power demand falls by at least 20% as monsoon sets in and hydel units start ramping up their production. This year, however, the demand hasn't come down."

He said that this is partly because of deficient monsoon and partly because of the issues being faced by subsidiaries of CIL at several locations.

The NTPC official said that "There is equipment breakdown at units of MCL (Mahanadi Coalfields), and then there are contractual issues in SECL (South Eastern Coalfields) while mines in Odisha are facing civil anarchy. All this led to apprehensions regarding coal supply not meeting the requirements."

According to CIL sources, supply of coal to thermal power units during April-June 2014 was 88.66 million tonnes against the annual action plan target of 101.61 million tonnes.

NTPC said that 6 of its power plants had reached a critical level of coal stock. These are Rihand, Vindhyachal, Sipat, Simhadri, Ramagundam and Singrauli with a combined capacity of 16, 840 MW.

The official said that the NTPC stations facing problems are near the pit-head of mines, which makes it difficult to transport imported coal there.

With 2014 being forecast as an El Nino year, rainfall during the monsoon period (June to September) would be below normal, according to the long range forecast of India Meteorological Department. El Nino is a weather phenomenon that reduces monsoon rains.
Meanwhile, NHPC added that its production would be almost similar to last year's. Compared to 2,576 million units produced in June 2013, NHPC produced 2,941 million units in June 2014.

Source – Business Standard

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Posted By : admin on Sat, 19 Jul 2014
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