States in India face power cuts as coal demand rise; A look into the ongoing coal shortage in the country

Coal shortage has become a severe problem in India and many states are concerned about blackouts now. The energy crisis is looming in many states and this is due to a combination of factors such as excess rainfall hitting coal movement and imported coal-based power plants generating less than half of their capacity due to record-high rates.

The second Covid wave impacted mining operations and the less coal-stock build-up in the state between April and June 2021. On October 5, out of 135 thermal plants that use coal for power generation, 106 or nearly 80 percent were either in the critical or supercritical stage where they had stocks only for the next 6-7 days.  Here are the states which are more likely to be affected by the coal shortage in the coming days:

  1. Punjab: Due to the coal shortage at thermal power plants, Punjab imposed rotational load shedding in several places. Punjab State Power Corporation Limited official stated that the coal stock would be seen only for 5 days from now and there is no clarity on the coming days stock in the state. The coal-fired power plants are operating at less than 50 percent of their generation capacity, said officials.
  1. Kerala: For the past few days, the State has been experiencing a shortage of 15 percent of power from the Central pool due to the closure of four thermal stations due to coal shortage. “In the coming days, there is a chance of load shedding in the state as the state is witnessing a coal shortage where the entire country is conscious of,” said Kerala Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty.
  1. Rajasthan: Rajasthan is resorting to one-hour power cuts on a daily basis. In the state, CM Ashok Gehlot has urged consumers not to use electrical equipment that consumes high power, such as ACs, geysers, etc. Also, it is believed that the use of maximum natural light during the day reduces pressure on the system.
  1. Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh has been meeting grid demand of about 185-190 mega units daily. Power generation stations operated by APGENCO, which supply about 45 percent of the state’s energy needs, hardly have coal stocks for 1 or 2 days and generation from these could be affected later.
  1. Delhi: The situation of Delhi is similar to the shortage of oxygen during the second Covid wave, said Delhi Electricity Minister, Satyendar Jain. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over “a power crisis” Delhi could face.
  1. Jharkhand and Bihar are also among the worst affected by the coal shortage.

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The states definitely seem to be panicking. However, the Centre has assured that there is no need to worry about the situation at present.