Highest Power Shortage in October

India recorded a power supply shortage of 1,201 million units in October 2021 — the highest in 5.5 years — due to a crunch in coal stocks available with thermal plants. The shortage was mostly restricted to Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Important Highlights

  • In October, Gujarat recorded a power shortage of 215 million units, the highest for any month in more than a decade. With a shortage of 77 million units, Jharkhand too recorded its highest deficit in more than a decade.
  • Bihar recorded 120 million units of shortage in October, the highest for any month in 8.5 years.
  • Haryana saw 113 million units of shortage, the highest in about nine years. Punjab’s deficit stood at 121 million units, the highest in seven years. Rajasthan witnessed 242 million units of power shortage last month, the highest in over nine years.
  • Supply shortage was also observed in Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in October, however, they were not an anomaly but were similar to the general trend observed in the regions.

 

Coal Inventory 

  • The power shortage was primarily due to a supply crunch of coal to 135 thermal plants. As on November 5, the average coal inventory held by the plants would last only seven days. The average stock position had marginally become better from the levels seen in mid-October when less than four days of supply was available. In comparison, the normative stock required on an average is over 21 days. The last time the average stock was near the requirement level was in mid-June, and since then, it has declined rapidly.
  • As on November 5, in the inventories of all the 135 plants, only 1.45 lakh tonnes of actual stock of coal is imported. This is a far cry from the 15.43 lakh tonnes of imported coal available in the stock in February 2020. A sharp increase in the international coal price led to a decrease in imports.

 

High Prices 

  • While addressing the 47th foundation day of Coal India Ltd, Union Minister for Coal Pralhad Joshi pointed out that international coal price had increased more than three times recently, which resulted in a 38% decrease in imports. At the same time, electricity demand had gone up by more than 24%, the Minister added.
  • Joshi urged Coal India Ltd and its subsidiaries to “make all-out efforts to ensure at least 18 days of coal stock with thermal plants by November end this year.”