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Coal supply position to power stations ‘not comfortable’

Sandeep Joshi

Over 60 % of power generated comes from thermal projects

NEW DELHI: Shortage of coal supply to power stations could make electricity supply situation worse this summer. “The coal supply position to thermal power stations in the country is not comfortable,” Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Mr. Ramesh, who was replying to a question on shortage of coal and gas in power projects, said: “As on April 14, 2008, out of 77 coal-based thermal power stations, 24 are critical, having a coal stock of less than seven days. The all-India stock is also low at 10.841 million tonnes, against a normative requirement of 22 million tonnes.”

Over 60 per cent of the power generated in the country comes from thermal projects.

Mr. Ramesh said rigorous monitoring of supply of coal to power stations was on at all levels to optimise the supply from various sources.

Besides urging the Ministry of Coal to augment production of coal, the government was also considering import of coal to meet the domestic shortfall and arranging ‘regasified liquefied natural gas.’ New coal blocks were being allocated by the Ministry of Coal to power producers and utilities for captive mining to meet requirement of their power plants.

Mr. Ramesh said the production and supply of gas in the country was also not keeping pace with the growing demand, including that of the power sector.

“The average gas supply during 2007-08 was 37.06 metric million standard cubic metres per day (MMSCMD), against the requirement of 65.67 MMSCMD to operate the power stations at 90 per cent plant load factor.”

Replacement of insulators

Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, in reply to a question, said work had started to replace conventional insulators with polymer insulators to check tripping of the northern grid during winter due to fog and pollution.

“Replacement work is first being done on the vulnerable lines mostly falling in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. A committee has also been set up by the Central Electricity Authority to inquire into the partial grid disturbances that occurred in the northern region in March,” he said.

The government had set up an ambitious target to augment generation capacity during the 11th Five-Year Plan. A capacity addition of 78,577 MW was envisaged during 2007-12.

“Out of this, projects aggregating 9,263 MW were commissioned in 2007-08, and projects worth 62,847 MW are under construction under various power generation companies. We have to cover up the deficits of earlier plan periods.”

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