India mulls importing coal as energy supply concerns grow


New Delhi: Indian energy experts are investigating whether additional coal imports may be needed to prevent further strain on the country’s power supply.

Fossil fuel stockpiles at power plants have fallen by roughly 11% since mid-August, leaving utilities with an average 10-day supply, far short of the level needed for more than three weeks. About 70% of India’s electricity is generated using coal.

“We are monitoring the situation with concern,” Power and Renewable Energy Minister Raj Kumar Singh said in an interview. “Access to power for the common man is non-negotiable.”

Even if the country’s longer-term goal is to curb imports from abroad, plants should keep enough inventory and provide import inventory if needed, he said Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced the first import tender from state-owned utility Coal India Ltd in June, and NTPC Ltd has also increased its imports from offshore markets.

India is seeking to avoid a repeat of its worst coal shortage in years in 2021, caused by a prolonged monsoon season that flooded mines and disrupted shipments. In many regions of the country, the warmer weather increased cooling needs, as a result of which coal-fired electricity production increased by nearly 16% in the first week of September compared to a year earlier.

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