Video Producer: Naman Shah
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
A long list of states, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Madhya Pradesh, are witnessing long power cuts, as India finds itself on the brink of another power crisis, just six months after coming out of a similar one in October 2021.
This time, the crisis is induced by a shortage of coal at thermal plants, many of which are left with stock that could meet the demand of only a few days of power supply.
How Did India Land Itself in Coal and Power Crises?
When India faced a major coal crisis with stocks dropping to just four days in October 2021, the government attributed it to a shortage in supply.
The current crisis, however, is caused by a variety of factors.
With temperatures rising to historic levels, the country's electricity consumption has also soared. On April 29, India's power demand touched an all-time high of 207.11 GW.
The resumption of economic activities after a two-year slowdown due to the pandemic is another reason for growing power consumption.
However, this massive power demand comes at a time when the country is facing a severe coal crunch. This is significant because 70% of India's power supply comes from thermal power plants, which are mostly fueled by coal.
According to recent reports, 108 of 173 thermal power plants have hit critically low levels of coal stock. At such low levels, many of them could only meet the power demand for a few days.
Shortage of Coal
India is the second-largest importer of coal in the world. Only a proportion of coal fuel to thermal plants comes from domestic coal producers. Therefore, India's thermal plants have to rely on coal imports to keep running. But the global rise in coal prices and the disruption caused by Russia's war on Ukraine have affected the coal imports.
In addition to the bottlenecks of coal imports, a shortage of railway rakes has also impacted the transportation of coal to thermal power plants across the country. Several trains were cancelled to make way for coal carriages.
Meanwhile, the Centre has blamed states like Maharashtra and Jharkhand for not clearing outstanding dues to coal suppliers.
It is estimated that India's power demand will peak in the coming months. To avert power outages, authorities will have to make arrangements for adequate supply of coal.