Why Are Power Plants Running Out of Coal? Energy Expert Narendra Taneja Explains
Emphasising that coordination is key, Dr Taneja believes that the situation will be under control by Diwali.
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Senior Editor: Eshwar Gole
"There seems to be some mismatch in the sense that they didn’t expect the demand for coal would rise so fast and the economy would come out of COVID-19 as fast as it has, at least in terms of the consumption of energy, whether it is petrol, diesel, coal, or electricity."
As India's power plants face a shortage of coal supply, that might lead to a power crisis, leading energy expert Dr Narendra Taneja talks about what led to the current situation and the possible ways out of it.
He highlights the following reasons behind the current coal shortage in coal-fired power plants:
Unexpected rise in demand: Taneja says, "There seems to be some mismatch in the sense they didn’t expect the demand for coal would rise so fast and the economy would come out of COVID-19 as fast as it has, at least in terms of the consumption of energy, whether it is petrol, diesel, coal, or electricity".
Excessive flooding: He adds, "At the same time, Eastern coal mines and Central coal mines, are used to monsoon and flooding. But this time, there has been excessive flooding".
Commercial Issues: "There are also commercial issues involved. For instance, some companies (power producers) have not been paying Coal India (CIL). In some cases, they have not paid for evacuation. So CIL started giving coal first to those who were making advance payments, or to those who were paying regularly.
Answering as to what possible solutions are there, he explains that power distribution is a state subject and under the Constitution, the central government can be involved in the business of power production, but they cannot sell it directly to the consumers.
"So, that’s the prerogative of the state government," he added.
He adds, "The maximum the central government can do is make sure the NTPC, NHPC, Nuclear Power Corporation or the Solar Power Corporation, these central entities produce the maximum electricity."
Further, he says, the Centre can, "make sure Coal India has a better coordination and cooperation with power producers and state governments."
Emphasising that coordination and cooperation is key, Dr Narendra Taneja believes that by Diwali, "the situation will be under control."
However, he adds, "it all depends on the states and the Centre. Coordination is the key. Cooperation is the key, and it’s important you don’t press the panic button."
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