India to face power shortage in coming weeks? What is the reason behind India's looming power crisis?

The Union Ministry of Power informed recently that the maximum all-India power demand was recorded at 201.066 GW on April 26, 2022, which is above last year’s maximum demand met of 200.539 GW, which occurred on 7 July 2021.

India to face power shortage in coming weeks
India to face power shortage in coming weeks

India is expected to witness a power shortage in the coming weeks amid rising coal prices and a shortage of thermal coal in several states. The Union Ministry of Power informed recently that the maximum all-India power demand was recorded at 201.066 GW on April 26, 2022, which is above last year’s maximum demand met of 200.539 GW, which occurred on 7 July 2021.

India's power demand is expected to cross 2GW this summer, which is expected to lead to a power crisis in the country in the coming months. The thermal power plants across the states are struggling to find the required amounts of coal amid rising demand, supply shortage and high costs. Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Power Minister RK Singh, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav on April 26th to discuss regarding the ongoing coal and power situation across the country.

The four ministers discussed the  availability of coal to power plants and the current power demands during the one-hour-long meeting. The meeting was held after several states raised the warning of a possible power crisis due to the shortage of coal supply to power plants.

Why is India facing a power crisis?

There are reports of depleting coal inventory of domestic thermal power plants in 12 states across India including Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkhand, which are already facing power cuts ranging from 3 to 8.7 per cent. The domestic power demand reportedly hit a 38-year high for the month in the first 14 days of April 2022. 

While there was a 1.1 per cent shortage in power in October 2021, it has increased to 1.4 per cent in April 2022. The Power Minister RK Singh blamed the power crisis on the steep rise in the prices of imported coal amid the Russia-Ukraine war. The global thermal coal prises remain elevated due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has disrupted trade flows and crippled supply amid additional demand from Europe that has imposed sanctions on Russian coal.

The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. had issued a notice on March 31, which read that the state has decided to temporarily curtail electricity supply to segments of agricultural power consumers in the state. The other states reporting high supply shortages include Madhya Pradesh (9.67 MU), Punjab (4.5 MU), Haryana (4.39 MU), Jharkhand (2.29 MU) and union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh (cumulatively 4.65 MU).

India’s power grid had reported a record load of 200,570 megawatts (MW) on July 7, 2021 at the peak of summer, as per the National Load Despatch Centre of the Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO). India has already crossed the figure this year even before the most intense part of summer, deepening the worry over the impending power crisis. 

What steps is the government taking to avoid the impending power crisis?

  • Union Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy RK Singh assured recently that the government will be able to meet the rising power demand. The Minister informed that the government has taken several steps to ensure smooth coal supply to thermal power plants.
  • The Union Minister informed that the states have also been allowed to allot up to 25 percent of their coal supply to thermal power plants in other states for power supply when needed. This is expected to help reduce the price of coal transport and therefore the price of power as well. 
  • The states have also been allowed to import up to 10 percent of their coal demand amid a shortage of coal in the country. This is expected to increase the overall gross calorific value (GCV) of coal resulting in better power yield since imported coal is higher GCV.
  • The Minister also added that the increasing power demand is a good sign for the economy and the government will be able to meet it.
  • The Minister said that he expects the peak power demand to touch almost 220 GW or 2,20,000 MW during intense summers. 
  • Union  Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi informed on April 25th that as of today, 21.55 mn tons of coal stock is available with thermal power plants , almost 9-9.5 days of stock available with thermal power plants. He said that the stock is replenished on a day-to-day basis assuring that with Coal India together, we have around 72.5 mn tons stock.
  • The Northern Railways issued a statement on April 27 informing that to ensure uninterrupted and timely delivery of coal to power stations, priority is being given to goods trains carrying coal and hence, eight passenger trains have been cancelled from April 28 till further orders. 

Read Also: PM Modi inaugurates Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya: Top 7 Points You Should Know

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