Coal Crisis: Thermal power plants present in many states of the country are facing the shortage of coal. There is less than four days of coal available in the plants and the number of such plants is increasing where the quantity of coal is decreasing rapidly. Union Energy Minister RK Singh, however, said that there is no cut in the country as of now amid supply-related challenges, but the coal crisis is likely to continue for six months. In such a situation, questions are arising in the minds of many people that why there is this crisis of coal and what is the government doing to deal with it. The answers to all these questions are given below in sequence.
How big is the coal crisis
On an average, coal is available for only four days in many thermal power plants of the country and the number of such plants is increasing rapidly. According to the recommendation of the government, thermal power plants should have coal stock for 14 days. On October 4, 16 plants with a power generation capacity of 17475 MW had coal stocks for zero days. Apart from this, 45 additional plants with 59790 MW power generation capacity had stock for only two days. Plants with a production capacity of 165 GW are monitored every day, out of which the availability of coal in plants with a production capacity of 132 GW is at critical level. The problem of coal availability is more in the plant located away from the coal mine. Plants have been set up to generate 288 GW of electricity in the country, out of which 54 percent i.e. 208.8 GW plants run on coal.
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Due to this the problem of coal increased
- The demand for electricity increased in the economy recovering from the Corona epidemic. 10.6 thousand crore units of electricity were consumed in August 2019 when there was no outbreak of corona virus whereas in August 2021 this year, 12.4 thousand crore units of electricity were consumed. Thus, rising consumption amid shortage of supply has aggravated the coal crisis.
- Two years ago, the coal-fired plant supplied 61.9 per cent of the total power requirement, but this year it has increased to 66.4 per cent.
- According to the Union Energy Minister, electricity has been provided to about 2.82 crore families for the first time. Because of this consumption has increased.
- The daily demand for electricity is increasing. On October 4 last year, there was a demand of 15 GW in the country, which this year increased to 174 GW on October 4 last week.
- The plants kept coal stocks below normal in April-June 2021. Apart from this, due to heavy rains in August and September, the production of coal decreased and the coal from the mines to the plants was also less.
- The availability of coal was affected due to the policy of reducing imports and rising prices in the global market.
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The government took these measures to deal with the situation
- A team of several ministries has been constituted to monitor the supply of coal in thermal power plants. It includes representatives of the Ministry of Power and Railways, Coal India, Central Electricity Authority and Power System Corporation.
- The government is asking thermal plants which have their own coal mines to produce more so that they can at least meet their demand.
- The Ministry of Power is about to start production from the mines which have got the necessary regulatory approvals.
For the supply of coal from the mines to the plants, the number of rakes has been increased i.e. more coal is being supplied.