"As of now, power produced form domestic coal is costlier than the power produced from imported coal. That is why we have to buy power from private parties, keeping some of our generation idle. Because this is cheaper," said D J Pandian, Additional Chief Secretary (Energy & Petrochemicals Department), Gujarat Government, while addressing an interaction organised at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU) on the subject of an interactive tool India Energy Security Scenarios (IESS) 2047, designed by the Planning Commission with the primary aim to make India an energy independent by 2047.
Pandian however did not divulge the cost difference between the imported and domestic coal, nor the capacity under the state government-run utilities, that is currently lying idle due to costly domestic coal.
Gujarat currently procures 60 percent of it's energy needs from private players. According to Pandian, the cost of transporting coal through the railways from coal-fields located in remote parts of Chattisgarh almost doubles the cost of domestic coal.
"Chattisgarh is where we get our coal from....Today the transportation of coal through railways is expensive... By the time it reaches, Wanakbori and Gandhinagar (locations of thermal stations run by state run---Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited) it is much more expensive than the imported coal," he said adding the calorific value of imported coal was much higher than the domestic coal.
"Gujarat has 23,000 Mega Watt (MW) of installed power capacity, of which 18000 MW is based on thermal ---coal and gas together. Of these, about 4000 MW is gas based, while the 14000 MW is coal based. Of these 14,000 MW, about 9200 MW is based only on imported coal," the state government official said naming 4,000 MW of ultra mega power project put up by Tatas, 4000 MW of Adanis (both at Mundra in Kutch) and 1200 MW of power of Essar in Jamnagar, among the private power producers who use imported coal to generate power.
The private power producers in Gujarat import coal from countries like Indonesia.
Power experts based in the state point out that there has been a quantum shift in the power generation scenario in Gujarat in the last one decade. According to a recent study conducted by Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education & Research Society (CERS), 60 percent of the power generated in Gujarat is contributed by private power producers --- the highest private contribution in the country --- when compared to other states. In 2005-06, the contribution of state owned power generating utilities stood at 55 percent of the total installed capacity of 9026 MW in Gujarat, while the contribution of private sector was just 23 percent.