Kolkata: A little over 11,500 MW of thermal generation capacities from 36 power units at 27 stations are idling due to want of coal. These plants, some of which have been shut for about three months, were to receive the dry fuel from Coal India.
According to data compiled by the government, as of October 31, 500 MW unit at the Meja Thermal Power Station and 600 MW unit at Raghunathpur have been lying idle for about three months. The reason is shortage of coal.
While some idling capacities are being brought online on a regular basis, some other units are going off-grid due to dwindling coal supplies.
The Bhuswal Thermal Power station had to shut one of its 210 MW units even as three units that were shut earlier came back on stream.
A 500 MW unit at the Indira Gandhi Super Thermal Power Plant, which was lying shut since October 2, could be made operational as coal was made available. On the same day , a 600 MW unit of the Solapur Thermal Power Project started ge nerating power after lying shut for almost 20 days. Another 110 MW unit at Muzaffarpur Thermal Power Station could also start generating power. This unit was shut since October 23 for want of coal.
Average coal stocks at power plants were just about enough for 6 days and 23 non-pithead plants were facing critical stock issue on Oc tober 31. “A sudden spurt in demand for thermal power following a reduction in power supplies from other sources has resulted in higher demand for coal. Added to this is the fact that a large number of power plants did not lift their full quota of coal during the beginning of the year when demand was not as firm as it is now. These power plants are now asking for more coal,“ said a senior Coal India official. “However, constraints in coal supply logistics have resulted in shortfall of supplies to a large number of plants.“
Stations that are saddled with large idle capacities include the Damodaran Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station (800 MW), Suratgarh TPS (750 MW), Rajoura TPS (700 MW) and Prayagraj TPP (660 MW).
“In an effort to increase coal supplies, Coal India is also liquidating its existing stocks. It began the year with 68 million tonnes of stocks that has now fallen to 29 million tonnes after selling 39 million tonnes,“ the Coal India official said.
Coal India has also offered power companies the option of lifting coal on trucks beyond their yearly quota directly from pitheads, in an effort to increase stocks at power plants. It is planning to rejig supply logistics so that the distance over which coal is transported decreases.
Coal India executives said the situation would improve gradually as power demand falls with the onset of winter. “In fact, winter has already started to reduce power demand at certain locations,“ one of them said.
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