Effect of Coal Shortage on Power Consumption & role of renewable energy in overcoming the problem

Effect of Coal Shortage on Power Consumption & role of renewable energy in overcoming the problem

Effect of Coal Shortage on Power Consumption & role of renewable energy in overcoming the problem


India is on the brink of an unprecedented power crisis


More than half of the country's 135 coal-fired power plants are running on fumes - as coal stocks run critically low. As India's economy picked up after a deadly second wave of Covid-19, demand for power rose sharply.


Power consumption in the last two months alone jumped by almost 17%, compared to the same period in 2019.


Coal accounts for about 70% of India’s electricity generation, and consumption is forecast to rise in the next few years, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes for a massive increase in renewables. According to Central Electricity Authority (CEA) data, 77 coal-based thermal power plants (57% of total coal plants in India) with a total capacity of 98 GW had a ‘super critical’ coal-stock (stock for less than three days) on October 5, 2021.


Power curtailment would be disastrous for all the sectors specially the manufacturing sector, trying to recover after the pandemic slowdown.


CEA to Review Coal Stocking Policy


The government is looking at the law to see how imported coal-based plants can be made operational. These plants have been shut because coal imports are pricey and the cost cannot be passed on to consumers.

Alternative solution to thermal power plants


In this situation, a pickup in renewable energy generation could provide relief to utilities across the country, which are struggling with a coal shortage, forcing India to ask power plants to import coal.

DISCOMs will realize that renewable tariffs are far less compared to the exchange trade prices and conventional energy tariffs. In the short term, there can be no damage control through renewables. However, in the long run, the importance of renewables will be underlined. Domestic production of components is going to be the key for renewables to scale in India.


India will need thermal power plant as base load because storage options are very expensive. Solar power, for instance, is available only during the day and has to be stored for it to be supplied at night. This storage is still expensive, and until rates fall, thermal power will continue to be the mainstay.


Mr. Nikhil Samundre of Solar Marts believes that it is high time for DISCOMs to have diversified sources of supply, which shall ascertain adequate back up.

The best example is of Tata Power in Mumbai. It supplies power to its customers in Mumbai by a combination of imported coal-based plants at Trombay, hydropower plants near Mumbai, and some renewable assets. Considering that, it has diversified sources of supply by Tata Power, mostly from plants nearby to Mumbai, the guarantee of supply along with adequate quantity with adequate backup will be ensured

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