Shortage of coal sparks power crisis in north

Shortage of coal sparks power crisis in north

Power crisis is expected in coming weeks especially in the northern and western regions of the country with electricity generation capacity drastically coming down due to shortage of coal as well as non-operation of power plants.

At present around 13,122.5 mw of coal-based power generation capacity is shut for the past one week. The country’s western and northern regions are at more risk as 7,200 mw and 2,300 mw of generation capacity, respectively, is shut due to shortage of coal.

Apart from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which have been in comfortable zone in power production are also facing power outages.

The prices of electricity in the spot market have also gone up to record high of around Rs 6 per unit over the last week with clear indication about increasing demand of power due to reduced generation.

Spot prices on Indian Energy Exchanges (IEX), country’s largest energy trading platform, have gone up to over Rs 7 during peak hours with power starved states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab buying aggressively to meet the demand.

Eight units of NTPC, with a combined capacity of 2,500 mw, are shut due to coal shortage. Even the company’s power stations at Sipat in Chhattisgarh and Badarpur and Jhajjar in Haryana reported zero fuel stocks on August 28.

Apart from this, Adani Power shut its Mundra unit (990 mw) last week due to coal shortage, while another 1,980 mw of capacity was shut due to a payment default by utilities in Haryana.

Tata Power’s Mundra ultra mega power plant shut 1,600 mw of capacity, citing technical reasons. Even Reliance Power also cited technical glitch for the closure of its 300-Mw Rosa power plant in Uttar Pradesh.

Interestingly the shutdowns of private power players came a day after the Supreme Court ruled power generators couldn’t levy additional charges on buyers due to escalating fuel costs.

Official in the Power Ministry said, “These power stations got top priority for coal supply to avert any generation loss at least on account of coal shortage.

The power situation is not comfortable this year due to uneven monsoon, leading to increasing demand from agriculture sector and less storage of water in hydro power stations. With the India Meteorological Department’s forecasting heavy rainfall across north India, officials in the Power Ministry expecting that the demand for electricity may come down.

According to a report by the Northern Regional Load Despatch Centre , the peak power shortage in the north Indian states was 5,323 mw on Friday.

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