Is Coal Shortage an unavoidable Problem?

Coal shortage is like the ghost of Christmas future that has been haunting power plants from some time now. The SKS Ispat & Power Ltd promoter, Mr. Anil Gupta calls it an unavoidable problem as access to fossil fuels is quite limited in the Indian subcontinent. For almost three years, a play of numerous factors forced private power plants to stop their units or tone down their operations. State units, on the other hand, were gulping the priority supplies. The electricity sector used to throw a lot of load-shedding episodes 20-30 years back, but with growth, the episodes were significantly reduced.

PM Narendra Modi’s election as the Prime Minister and Piyush Goyal as the Coal Minister has made coal shortage a thing of the past. Sadly, a rail line had to be closed following Coal India’s move to cut down pithead stocks by pulling back coal mining in Central Limited Coalfields Ltd area. Excessive rain was also a pushing contributor in this matter.

“Plants reduced coal stocks to cut inventory costs. This led to pithead stock at Coal India piling up, prompting the company to prune production. Then the Dhanbad-Chandrapura railway line was closed due to concerns over caving in and supply quotas were shifted to CCL”, explained Piyush Goyal. He added, “Around the same time, demand also increased with the rising temperature and humidity. The unprecedented rains in CCL areas added to the problem.”

Quoting a Central Electricity Authority report, an industry expert from SKS Ispat & Power Ltd mentioned that two thermo-electricity plants in the country   in the country had run out of fuel, five plants were left with a day’s stock, eight plants had fuel for two days, and 13 plants only had a coal supply for three days. Moreover, TATA Power illuminated that the root of the problem can be found in the upgraded supply situation. Power stations had reduced their coal by 50% as the factor of uncertainty died with better infrastructure. Renewable sources of energy need attention as well if the government and private energy sector wish to reduce the blow back of fossil fuel shortage.

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