October 29, 2021 4:34:06 am
Coal stocks at the country’s thermal plants are improving after a difficult month, in which a number of states had to resort to load shedding as plants ran out of the fuel.
While the coal stock position is improving, the shortage at plants has only emphasised the importance of the fuel in the power sector, even as the country is moving towards boosting the share of renewables in its power mix.
As the economy recovers from the pandemic, power demand has risen sharply to well above pre-pandemic levels, forcing coal-fired plants to raise production and meet growing demand.
Supply-side factors, including a long monsoon and high global coal prices, put further pressure on these plants. While the government has said stocks at Coal India Ltd (CIL), the near monopoly supplier of coal, are sufficient to meet demand, CIL’s annual output has stagnated over the past few years, from 606 million tonnes (mt) in FY19 to 602 mt in FY20 and 596 mt in FY21.
CIL has moved to diversify its business into renewables and other areas, including fertilisers, while relooking at plans to reach 1 billion tonnes of coal output by FY24, citing low offtake issues.
How can we avoid a repeat of the coal shortage? Could the government’s increasing emphasis on renewables put financial strain on thermal power generation companies? What role will coal play in India’s power mix going forward?
The Indian Express has invited Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya, former Chairman and Managing Director of Coal India, to answer some of these critical questions.
As CMD, he oversaw the landmark IPO of Coal India in 2010 — still the largest-ever IPO of an Indian company. CIL’s performance improved during his tenure, with profits rising from Rs 1,711.7 crore in FY06 to Rs 3,779.9 crore in FY11. He also led a turnaround at CIL subsidiary Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, leading it to profit for the first time in FY06.
Explained.Live is a unique series of explanatory conversations that The Indian Express hosts.
On Friday, Bhattacharyya will be in conversation with Karunjit Singh, senior correspondent, The Indian Express.
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