Coal shortage cripples half of India’s power plants

Coal shortage cripples half of India’s power plants

Indian coal-based power plants are struggling to keep up with daily demand and 50% of them only have enough stocks to last about a week, the lowest level since one of the world's worst blackouts hit the country in 2012.

Latest official data by the Central Electricity Authority show a sharp fall in power output on Thursday from a plant in Gujarat that left India more than 9,000 megawatts short of peak demand, Reuters reported.

State-run NTPC’s five power projects are running at a lower capacity due to inadequate fuel supply from Coal India (CIL) even as the demand soared in the central and northern parts of the current, IBNLive reported.

Speaking to the upper house of parliament last month, the minister of state for power, coal and new and renewable energy called power utilities to increase coal imports and so avoid the every day more frequent blackouts.

He also said CIL, the world's biggest producer of the fossil fuel, has been asked to enhance production of domestic coal.

“The availability of coal in the country has been adversely affected due to coal scams during the previous government,” the authority said, adding the current shortage at coal-powered plants was estimated in 84.71 million tonnes in the fiscal year to March 31, 2015.

According to the authority, demand for coal-based power in the year will require 551.60 million tonnes of the mineral, whereas coal supplies are projected to be 466.89 mi.

India’s coal output hit 565 million tonnes in the fiscal year to March, making it the world's third-largest producer of the fossil fuel.  It is also the fifth-biggest importer of coal and its ongoing crunch could offer a sales opportunity to exporters.

Image by JT_Palmer|Flickr Commons.