Coal Imports for Thermal Power Plants in India & Consumption of Domestic Coal

Imports coal by thermal power plants in India – Past 10 Years Trend

35.3 Million Tonnes of coal has been imported by thermal power plants in India during FY’2023-24 (Till Oct’23)

The concern of GoI is to ensure sufficient availability of coal to Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) so that the demand for electricity may be met. Coal, whether domestic or imported, is procured by Thermal Power Plants [Domestic Coal Based (DCBs) plants or Imported Coal Based Plants (ICBs)] separately and as per their requirements. As Coal is under open general licence (OGL) since 1993, thermal power plants / generators have been regularly importing coal as per their preference (imported coal has high Gross Calorific Value and therefore is of better quality) and need, based on their commercial prudence. There are several Power Plants based exclusively on imported coal.

In addition, the Domestic Coal Based (DCBs) plants have been importing coal for blending purpose since 2009. The imports for blending varied between a peak of 47.6 Million Tones (MT) in 2015-16 to 23.8 MT in 2019-20. In 2020, Ministry of Power advised States to reduce imports for blending; as a result, the imports declined to 8.1 MT in the year 2021-22. Information regarding coal imports by DCBs and ICBs is regularly collected and monitored by Central Electricity Authority.

Import of Coal (Million Tonnes) by Thermal Power Plants in India from 2014-15 Till Oct’2023


Growth in coal-based generation, receipt of domestic coal during FY’2023-24 (Till Oct’23)

During April-October 2023, the average growth in coal-based generation, with respect to corresponding period of FY 23, was 8.6% and the depletion in DCB plants stocks was 15.3 MT

During April-Sep 2022 (QI, Q2 of FY 2022-23) the receipt of domestic coal was about 355 MT against the consumption of 385 MT (Dom: 359 MT + Imp: 1.4 x 18.9 MT). The gap between supply of domestic coal and consumption of coal was about 1.6 lakh tonnes / day during this period. On the improvement of the situation, Ministry of Power advised GENCOs on 01.08.2022 to take decision regarding blending at their level taking into account the domestic coal supply and stock position (need based blending) with continuous monitoring of stock levels.

The gap between daily coal consumption and daily arrival of domestic coal ranged between 2.65 Lakh Tonnes to 0.5 Lakh Tonnes between the months of September 2022 and January 2023. If the imports for blending had not been made, the coal stocks in thermal power plants would have reduced to ZERO in September 2022 and would have continued so, leading to widespread power cuts and blackouts. Therefore, Ministry of Power advised Central, State Gencos and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) on 09.01.2023 to import coal @ 6% by weight through a transparent competitive procurement for blending so as to have sufficient coal stocks at their power plants for smooth operations till September 2023.

In the current Financial Year, Power Supply position has been regularly reviewed by the Ministry of Power and it has been observed that there is consistent rising trend in the power demand in the country coupled with inadequate supply of domestic coal which has resulted in rapid depletion of coal stocks at Domestic Coal Based (DCB) Plants across the country. During April-October 2023, the average growth in coal-based generation, with respect to corresponding period of FY 23, was 8.6% and the depletion in DCB plants stocks was 15.3 MT.

Summary of Growth in Coal based generation, receipt of Domestic Coal and consumption in DCB Plants From Apr-Oct’2023


State wise rationalization of coal linkages in India for distinct thermal power plants

In India Coal PSUs are in constant endeavor to reduce production cost by improving in efficiency in their operations through adoption of mechanization of its mines. In underground mines, Mass Production Technologies (MPT), mainly with Continuous Miners (CMs) and Highwalls (HW) mines are adopted. In opencast mines, State-of-the-Art technologies are adopted in high-capacity Excavators, Dumpers and Surface Miners. Digital transformation technology has also been introduced on pilot scale in a few mega mines. Further, CIL has also adopted Mine Developer cum Operator (MDO) and Long-Term outsourcing models for mines. CIL is also operationalizing abandoned/discontinued mines on Revenue sharing model. CIL is taking all efforts to increase its domestic production as well as offtake. An increase in domestic production of coal would lead to reduction in dependence on imported coal by the industries. To make more domestic coal available and reduce import of coal, the following steps have been taken:
• Auction of commercial coal blocks on revenue share basis
• Operationalization of new mines and expansion of existing coal mines
• Regular monitoring with relevant states and district authorities
• Issuance of New Coal Linkage for New Power Plants
• Thrust is being made to offer large quantities of domestic coal through various format of eAuctions so that the consumers are not inclined towards import of coal
• Increased Supplies
• Flexibility has been given to NRS Linkage consumers for change of mode from Rail to Road in view of high pendency of rake supply


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