Spot prices of electricity reached a new high with power being traded at Rs 11.4/unit for a 15-minute slot for Tuesday, as generation plants across the country grapple with severe coal shortage amid rising demand.
Independent power producers could offer only 6,438 MW capacity for selling electricity at the exchange, against the purchase demand of 9,119 MW, driving up average exchange prices to Rs 6.3/unit. Peak power demand met on Monday was 1,67,669 MW.
To address the severe coal scarcity at power plants, mainly caused by inadequate transportation mechanism to ferry the fuel, railways and coal minister Piyush Goyal decided to prioritise coal supply to power plants, followed by some Coal India Ltd (CIL) subsidiaries instructing to completely stop coal supply to other industries.
The decision is seen to jeopardise daily operations of industries such as cement, steel and aluminium that run their own captive power plants for their use. However, the industrial users have not yet resorted to buy power from the exchange on a large scale, sources added.
Among the power plants with exposure to the merchant market, as on May 20, CESC’s Dhariwal plant had coal stock for one day and Adani’s Tirora plant had coal to last for three days only. Out of the 140 generation units with assured coal linkages from CIL, whose fuel stocks are monitored by the Central Electricity Authority, as many as 45 plants have stocks which cannot even last four days. NTPC’s Talcher, Mauda, Sipat and Korba units were seen having zero days of coal stock.