Power Crisis
Thermal plants normally maintain coal stocks of 30 days, but officials say the current stocks will last for just over one day.
WIkimedia Commons

Karnataka may be looking at major power shortages in the coming days, as the state’s thermal power plants are on the verge of a crisis.

According to officials, power plants are facing a critical drop in coal supply, with stocks available for just one more day.

 A senior official with the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) told TNM, “Ideally, we have a coal stock that will last for a little over a month. Currently we have stock that will last us for little over one day. If the coal supply does not come in time, then there may be complete power outage for three to four days.”

The KPCL generates power from solar, thermal, hydel and wind power plants. Of these, the significant portion is generated through thermal and hydel plants. In September, of the 154.38 Million Units (MU) of power generated daily until Saturday, 29 MU came from thermal plants.

But significantly, Karnataka does not possess any coal mines, and has to import all the required coal. “There are no coal mines in the state as they have depleted. We import coal from other states. A large chunk comes from Telangana, Maharashtra and Odisha and there has been a shortage of supply,” the KPCL official said.

“We need over 50,000 tonnes of coal per day. The Raichur Thermal Power Station, has a total capacity of 1,720 MW and requires 30,000 tonnes of coal per day.  The Ballari Thermal Power Station requires 22,000 tonnes of coal a day,” he added.

However, this year has seen a much more drastic fall in coal supplies than normal. “Compared to previous years, this year there has been a huge decrease in coal supply. It is quite normal for a decrease in supply of coal during this time of the year, but we always manage to have 10 days’ worth of supply, but now it has reached a very low level,” the official said.

According to the Additional Chief Secretary Power, Rajneesh Goel, both the hydel and thermal power plants in the state are now working at maximum capacity.

“When power plants work at maximum capacity, the amount of coal used too is higher. The major thermal plants have been working at maximum capacity for some time now,” the KPCL official said. This has been because, during the summer, hydel power generation had dropped because of water scarcity in the catchment areas, he said.

“The state has to look into renewable energy. The state needs to be equipped to handle any sort of power crisis. Turning to renewables is the solution. The government had proposed a solar power plant in Pavagada (Tumakuru district), but that too has been put on the backburner,” the official said.