India is seeing disruptions as coal reserves at power plants reach record lows
For example, on April 8, daytime peak power demand reached 199.58 GW, the highest this fiscal year. On the same day, a total of 7,085 MW of power supply across India was cut off due to coal shortage.
Fuel reserves are overflowing
Although the daytime peak power demand fell from the April 8 peak, the average demand between April 4 and 13 (10 days) was at 195.43 GW. As on April 4, the number of DCB and ICB power plants with critical coal reserves (less than 25 per cent of the regulatory requirements) was 67 and 11, respectively. This increased to 81 DCB and 11 ICB plants by April 17.
On April 7, Fitch reported that it was unlikely to increase power generation in line with increased demand, which was limited by the availability of coal, which accounts for two-thirds of the electricity generated. The list of coal affected at the beginning of the summer is already low at about nine days, compared to the usual requirement of about 24 days.
For perspective, reserves at DCB power plants fell from 23.5 mt on April 4 to 21.36 mt on April 17. Supply for ICB plants at the same time fell slightly from 1.42 mt to 1.41 mt.
On April 4, the supply to DCB power plants was 9.10 days, while on April 17 it was reduced to 8.22 days. At the same time, stocks at ICB plants declined to 9.39 from 9.45.
Percentage of actual stocks vis à vis General requirements for DCB plants fell from 84 per cent on April 4 to 80 per cent on April 17. For ICB plants it was reduced from 30 per cent to 27 per cent.
Rising electricity demand
aa According to a recent ICICI Securities report, the maximum daily peak power demand in Q4 FY22 was 187GW against FY21 179 GW over the same period. Between April 1 and 12, the average daily maximum demand exceeded 194 GW.
Another indication for the increase in electricity demand is the price situation in the spot markets. On the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX), the average MCP in FY22 is ₹ 4.4 per kilowatt hour (kWh), the highest in the last 10 years.
A senior government official said demand would increase further based on experience. Some states are buying more due to coal shortage. Imported coal and gas prices are at record levels. In addition, more than 50 per cent of the imported coal-based capacity is not working due to high prices and high logistics cost.
“Gas plants operate at very low PLF (plant load factor or capacity) as spot gas prices are more than $ 40 per mbtu. The weather also changes abruptly from winter to summer and mercury rises. There is virtually no spring this time, ”he added.
In the first quarter of FY23, India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) stated that electricity demand will increase with increasing demand from residential consumers, resulting in an unprecedented change in weather conditions and higher temperatures than expected.
“However, a shortage of coal from domestic and international sources (due to high international prices of imported coal) could lead to artificial demand suppression, which in turn could lead to power outages and, thus, grow below actual demand on a YY basis,” the latest report said.
Analysts said the situation was alarming in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, which are already facing coal supply problems.
April 18, 2022