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Coal stocks at power plants continue to be low at a fifth of the monitored power plants, giving an opportunity to gas-based projects to operate.
Data available with the Central Electricity Authority showed that 23 of the 114 plants had low coal stocks, much higher than just three a year ago. This was the case despite Coal India posting the highest increase in a month in four years.
CEA data showed that capacity utilisation of gas-based plants improved to 25% in September from 22% in the previous month. Hydro-generation in September was 17% lower than targets and nuclear 24%.
Coal stocks have dropped as the country ramped up coal-based generation to meet the deficit arising out of low generation from hydro, nuclear and renewable power plants. Irrigational demand and warmer weather conditions have also led to higher power demand. Power companies had earlier not maintained adequate coal stocks since they did not anticipate the deficit arising out of lesser power supply from other sources, government officials said.
A Coal India official said that although there was an impressive growth in output, coal offtake by power sector grew at more than double the pace at 21%. “CIL recorded 10.1% growth in coal production in September. As a result, cumulative growth of production till September turned positive, after staying negative till August during this financial year,” said the official, requesting not to be identified. Despite first two days of October being holidays, there has been a growth of 8.9% in coal production, so far, which is likely to go up further during the month, he said.
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