Union Power Minister RK Singh has indicated that coal shortages in India could last six months, The Indian Express reported.
An increase in demand for electricity and shortages in supply of coal after monsoon have contributed to the shortfall. Many other countries are also facing an energy crunch as demand has surged after coronavirus-induced restrictions were lifted.
Singh told the newspaper that the present shortage in India is way beyond the usual supply crunch after the monsoon each year.
“I don’t know whether I will be comfortable in the next five-six, four-five months,” the minister said. “Normally the demand starts coming down in the second half of October...when it [the weather] starts cooling...But it’s going to be touch and go.”
On September 30, as many as 39 thermal plants with a capacity to generate 52,530 megawatts of electricity had coal stocks for less than three days, The Indian Express reported.
Fifteen thermal plans that can generate 14,875 megawatts of electricity had reportedly exhausted their stocks on September 30.
“If you have 40,000 MW-50,000 MW [of thermal capacity] with less than three days of stock, you can’t be secure,” the power minister told The Indian Express.
Coal makes up for about 70% of electricity generation in India, Bloomberg reported.
Singh told The Indian Express that the demand for electricity in India has risen “tremendously”.
He added: “Compared to pre-Covid period, the demand has increased in one month by 18 billion [or 1,800 crore] units...We touched 200 gigawatts during the Covid period, and the demand has been hovering around 170-180 GW. I expect it to go up again to near about 200 GW, and stay there.”
The minister said the increase in the demand for electricity showed that the economy is growing. “We’ve added 28.2 million [2.82 crore] consumers,” he told The Indian Express. “Most of them are lower-middle class and poor, so they are buying fans, lights, televisions sets.”
However, Singh said that there was no power crisis in the country yet, NDTV reported. “We are meeting the entire demand of the country and the demand is increasing,” he told the news channel.
The minister said that the government was closely monitoring coal supplies. “We have a group under Secretary Power which has members from the Ministry of Coal as well as the railways et cetera,” he added. “So, we are meeting whatever demand is there.”