The Coal Query

The Coal Question

2021-10-17 00:59:06

Solely relying on the Union Authorities for coal provides and with no import attainable, Tamil Nadu’s energy utility, Tangedco, is managing to maintain the thermal energy crops operating each day. Holding in thoughts the nightmares of load-shedding from a decade in the past that dethroned it, the ruling DMK has its activity reduce out earlier than the following summer time

Coal scarcity within the nation has made the headlines not too long ago with a couple of States implementing load-shedding resulting in the panic scenario. Whereas Tamil Nadu will not be going through any coal scarcity, the inventory is a matter of concern for the State energy utility, Tangedco, prompting officers to request the Union Energy Ministry to extend coal provides.

A senior official of Tangedco says the utility has virtually been pushed to a hand-to-mouth existence. The State, which was receiving 40,000 tonnes of coal final week, is getting 50,000 tonnes this week. The 50,000 tonnes is simply sufficient for the operation of the three energy stations at North Chennai, Mettur and Thoothukudi. These stations eat round 52,000 tonnes each day to supply 4,320 megawatts. With the restricted provide, Tangedco has been in a position to produce 3,000 megawatts-3,500 megawatts each day from these crops.

Although the State has wind and photo voltaic and non-polluting fuel crops that account for 42% of the entire put in capability of 32,595 MW, thermal energy has remained the staple for electrical energy officers to energy up the State, particularly to fulfill the height demand within the morning and the night. The quick provides from the coal mines has created a piquant scenario for Tangedco officers. Within the latest previous, the State has not confronted the scenario of getting coal shares for 4-5 days towards the mandated restrict of 9-10 days. The State had shares for 15 days final 12 months.

Officers have a cause to fret. The wind season is coming to an finish. The height energy demand this 12 months has been within the vary of 13,000 MW to 14,000 MW, a tad above the degrees within the earlier years. Often, the ability demand in October shall be round 12,000 megawatts. The State recorded an all-time excessive demand of 16,845.50 megawatts on April 10 and the best consumption, at 9,372 million items, on April 9 this 12 months.

Since coal scarcity began within the final week of September, the Union Energy Ministry has been conducting weekly conferences with officers of the State energy utility, together with numerous stakeholders, together with Coal India and Southern Railway, to extend the coal provides and take inventory of the place on a day-to-day foundation. “The Energy Ministry has been steadily growing the coal provide from 45,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes a day, and this has helped to take care of the typical inventory for 4 to 5 days,” mentioned Tangedco CMD Rajesh Lakhoni. “We’re additionally requesting the Energy Ministry to extend the provision to 1 lakh tonnes.”

As soon as the northeast monsoon units in, Tangedco expects the electrical energy demand to fall additional, serving to it ramp up the coal inventory. The ability managers are comfortable that such a scenario didn’t occur throughout the April-June interval when the height load could be within the order of 16,000 MW. The State had witnessed a serious energy disaster greater than a decade in the past. The officers say the Union Authorities’s resolution to not enable the State utilities to import coal will not be serving to.

Tangedco stopped importing coal after the Union Authorities issued tips in 2020, stating that 750 lakh tonnes of home coal was accessible in compensation for the top to imports. With no imports, Tangedco officers totally rely upon indigenous coal. This explains the present scenario.

In the meantime, retired electrical energy officers need Tangedco to hurry up the exploration of the Chandrabila coal block and get permission from the Union Authorities for importing coal from Indonesia. Whereas the State has been requesting the Union Authorities for extra coal, the Energy Ministry has been asking it to take further coal from the Central producing stations. However the provide to the Central producing stations is poor, the officers say. Worse is the place of personal energy turbines who use imported coal. Non-public energy turbines have stopped producing electrical energy. That is forcing the officers to buy energy from the change.

Tangedco, which has tied up with non-public turbines for buy of two,830 MW in the long run, obtained solely 800 MW-850 MW prior to now one week. This compelled the utility to purchase almost 3,000 MW from the change throughout peak hours.

The Central energy producing behemoth Neyveli Lignite Company (NLC), which operates thermal crops with a capability of greater than 2,000 MW, together with NLC Tamil Nadu Energy Restricted (NTPL), has been assuring Tangedco {that a} enough inventory was accessible to fulfill the necessities of NLC crops with extra coal being provided to NTPC.

An NLC official mentioned that NTPL, a 1,000-MW coal-based plant in Thoothukudi, requires round 12,000 tonnes of coal on daily basis, and there aren’t any worries as coal is provided from the Talabira II and III blocks in Sambalpur, Odisha. The 2 blocks had been allotted to NLCIL by the Union Authorities on Might 2, 2016, beneath the Coal Mines (Particular Provisions) Act, 2015, for optimum utilisation of collieries for the crops such because the Neyveli Talabira Thermal Energy Plant (NTTPP) and NTPL. Nevertheless, given the excessive demand for coal, the NLC goes all out to reinforce coal manufacturing to 1 metric tonne every year from the present 12 months and as much as 20 metric tonne every year from the following 12 months. This is not going to solely safe the provides to the crops but additionally make coal accessible available in the market, the official say.

Tangedco has been affected by poor coal provides for a number of years, and owing to the delay within the linking of recent coal blocks for gas provide agreements. Confirming the allotment of the Chandrabila block to the State, a Tangedco official mentioned the block was within the ‘exploration’ stage. Sources say the block has not been “renewed” by the Union Authorities.

The Ministry of Coal had allotted the Chandrabila block to Tangedco in February 2016. Tangedco additionally signed a coal block growth and manufacturing settlement with the Ministry of Coal in March 2016 for mining a complete space of 9.32 sq km. Nevertheless, as a portion of the mine is within the forest space, Tangedco has not been in a position to get atmosphere clearances, sources mentioned.

Yearly, there was a shortfall in coal provides from the Indian firms. The Ministry of Coal and the Ministry of Energy have been requested to instruct Coal India to rearrange the provision of the agreed portions of coal to the State utilities. Although the State has renewable power within the type of wind, photo voltaic and non-polluting fuel crops, the electrical energy officers have at all times handled wind as an “infirm” power and photo voltaic as unfit to fulfill the height hour demand. Gasoline is costlier.

Analysts really feel wind power has not been tapped absolutely. Vibhuti Garg, power economist, Institute for Vitality Economics and Monetary Evaluation, says the State with an enormous potential of wind power has not utilised it correctly. Although the State continues to be main in wind power, the wind generators, put in a number of years in the past, haven’t been re-powered. If the generators are changed with the higher designed and extra environment friendly ones, wind power can enhance even additional. That is higher than buying pricey energy from the change. She means that the State spend money on battery storage as a result of the price of the batteries is more likely to cut back within the subsequent few years and enhance the hydro storage for tapping hydroelectric energy.

S. Gandhi of Energy Engineers’ Society of Tamil Nadu says that till the State Authorities takes steps to revive coal imports on the earliest, the thermal energy crops can have a troublesome time earlier than April subsequent. The price of imported coal has elevated from $60 to greater than $250. The electrical energy officers need to import coal from Indonesia as soon as the worth comes down drastically; in any other case, the State might witness load-shedding once more subsequent summer time.

(With inputs from S. Prasad in Cuddalore)

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