India asks utilities to import coal amid short supply as demand spikes

India has urged utilities to import coal despite having the world’s fourth-largest reserves, with several power plants on the verge of running out of fuel due to a surge in power demand.

Coal-fired power accounts for more than 70% of electricity generation. Electricity generation makes up three-fourths of coal consumption.

“Thermal power plants, which may import coal for blending, may explore (ways) to enhance imports of coal to tide over the current crisis,” the power ministry said in an August 30 notice seen by Reuters.

Data from the Central Electricity Authority showed over half of the 135 coal-fired power plants had less than a week’s supply of coal left, of which 50 plants had fewer than three days of coal left. Six plants had run out of coal.

Overall electricity generation rose 16.1% in August, while coal-fired power output rose 23.7% from a year earlier, a Reuters analysis of daily load despatch data by federal grid regulator POSOCO showed.

India, the world’s second biggest coal importer, mainly imports from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa. The government has been seeking to cut imports.

Rise in coal use

In the first eight months of 2021, coal-fired electricity generation jumped 19.3%, faster than the 14.5% growth in renewable energy generation, POSOCO data showed.

ET Energy World
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