Coal stocks reach ‘critical’ levels in 11 of 13 thermal power plants in UP

According to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), coal availability in 11 out of the 13 coal fired power plants in the state have turned ‘critical’ as of April 25 with less than 25% of normative coal stock.

coal stock

Amidst a scorching summer and an uptick in industrial production, reports of power outages across Uttar Pradesh have started trickling in, with small towns and villages in the state going without electricity for four to five hours every day. And while local faults are also responsible, the major reason for the frequent power cuts is the critical level of coal inventories in the power plants.

According to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), coal availability in 11 out of the 13 coal fired power plants in the state have turned ‘critical’ as of April 25 with less than 25% of normative coal stock. Of the 13, four are state plants while nine are run by the private sector.

The 13 plants, with a generation capacity of 12,939 MW, are required to have a normative coal stock of 4,140.7 thousand tonne (TT). But as on April 25, they had a stock of only 677.7 TT, which is only 32% of the normative requirement.

As per CEA data, the four state-owned Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (UPRVUN) thermal plants, which have an installed capacity of 6,129 megawatts, have only 19% of actual coal stocks vis-à-vis the normative stock.

Of the four, three have coal stocks at “critical” levels (below 25%). While Anpara thermal power plant, the only pithead plant of UPRVUN, had 37% of the normative coal reserves, Harduaganj, Obra, and Parichha had merely 13%, 16%, and 5%, respectively.

Among the nine independent power producers, eight are in critical position, with Bajaj Hindustan’s 1980 megawatt Lalitpur plant having only 5% of the normative coal-stock while Reliance Energy’s 1200 megawatt Rosa thermal plant had only 4% of the stock.

Lanco’s 1,200 megawatt Anpara C, which is a pithead plant, had 23% stock, while Bajaj Energy’s five units of 90 MW each had coal stocks ranging between 1-7%. Only Prayagraj thermal plant had stocks above the critical level, at 29%. In fact, central sector PSU NTPC,which has two plants in the state, is also facing a similar situation. While its Tanda plant had only 7% of coal stock, Unchahar thermal plant had only 10% of the normative coal stock.

According to sources in the Uttar Pradesh energy department, coal inventory is fast depleting and with the monsoon only a couple of months away, the situation is likely to get aggravated. “Usually, we see a coal shortage during the monsoon, when supplies are disrupted due to rain and floods that disrupt mining and transportation. But with the coal shortage hitting us in April itself, the situation will only worsen during the monsoon. There is no way we can stock up for the rainy season. The state is likely to face a major electricity crisis in the coming months,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

All-India Power Engineers’ Federation chairman Shailendra Dubey said, “The coal inventory at these plants is continuously depleting and we are staring at a crisis within the next fortnight when the stocks are going to deplete further. Soon the crisis may spiral out of control.” He said the coal shortage in the state has already started affecting power production and the UPPCL has been forced to order emergency load shedding in villages and smaller towns.

According to sources, though the larger cities have largely been spared, UPPCL has already started curtailing power supply to rural areas and smaller towns. “The peak demand in the state has shot up to over 21,000 MW, while the supply is around 19,000 mw. This has led to outages, especially in rural areas, where around four-five hours of electricity is being curtailed,” a source said.

Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation chairman M Devraj admitted that thermal plants were unable to maintain the coal stocks as per the norms and said that to side step the problems of shortage of railway rakes, the plants are trying to get the coal by road also to avoid delays caused when coal is transported by rail. As per the standard norm, there should be 17 days of reserve coal at pithead power plants, while non-pithead plants are required to have a coal stock for 26 days.

Amidst a scorching summer and an uptick in industrial production, reports of power outages across Uttar Pradesh have started trickling in, with small towns and villages in the state going without electricity for four to five hours every day. And while local faults are also responsible, the major reason for the frequent power cuts is the critical level of coal inventories in the power plants.

According to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), coal availability in 11 out of the 13 coal fired power plants in the state have turned ‘critical’ as of April 25 with less than 25% of normative coal stock. Of the 13, four are state plants while nine are run by the private sector.

The 13 plants, with a generation capacity of 12,939 MW, are required to have a normative coal stock of 4,140.7 thousand tonne (TT). But as on April 25, they had a stock of only 677.7 TT, which is only 32% of the normative requirement. As per CEA data, the four state-owned Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (UPRVUN) thermal plants, which have an installed capacity of 6,129 megawatts, have only 19% of actual coal stocks vis-à-vis the normative stock.

Of the four, three have coal stocks at “critical” levels (below 25%). While Anpara thermal power plant, the only pithead plant of UPRVUN, had 37% of the normative coal reserves, Harduaganj, Obra, and Parichha had merely 13%, 16%, and 5%, respectively.

Among the nine independent power producers, eight are in critical position, with Bajaj Hindustan’s 1980 megawatt Lalitpur plant having only 5% of the normative coal-stock while Reliance Energy’s 1200 megawatt Rosa thermal plant had only 4% of the stock.

Lanco’s 1,200 megawatt Anpara C, which is a pithead plant, had 23% stock, while Bajaj Energy’s five units of 90 MW each had coal stocks ranging between 1-7%. Only Prayagraj thermal plant had stocks above the critical level, at 29%. In fact, central sector PSU NTPC,which has two plants in the state, is also facing a similar situation. While its Tanda plant had only 7% of coal stock, Unchahar thermal plant had only 10% of the normative coal stock.

According to sources in the Uttar Pradesh energy department, coal inventory is fast depleting and with the monsoon only a couple of months away, the situation is likely to get aggravated. “Usually, we see a coal shortage during the monsoon, when supplies are disrupted due to rain and floods that disrupt mining and transportation. But with the coal shortage hitting us in April itself, the situation will only worsen during the monsoon. There is no way we can stock up for the rainy season. The state is likely to face a major electricity crisis in the coming months,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

All-India Power Engineers’ Federation chairman Shailendra Dubey said, “The coal inventory at these plants is continuously depleting and we are staring at a crisis within the next fortnight when the stocks are going to deplete further. Soon the crisis may spiral out of control.” He said the coal shortage in the state has already started affecting power production and the UPPCL has been forced to order emergency load shedding in villages and smaller towns.

According to sources, though the larger cities have largely been spared, UPPCL has already started curtailing power supply to rural areas and smaller towns. “The peak demand in the state has shot up to over 21,000 MW, while the supply is around 19,000 mw. This has led to outages, especially in rural areas, where around four-five hours of electricity is being curtailed,” a source said.

Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation chairman M Devraj admitted that thermal plants were unable to maintain the coal stocks as per the norms and said that to side step the problems of shortage of railway rakes, the plants are trying to get the coal by road also to avoid delays caused when coal is transported by rail. As per the standard norm, there should be 17 days of reserve coal at pithead power plants, while non-pithead plants are required to have a coal stock for 26 days.


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