India's Oct power demand rises 4.1%, coal-fired output up 1.8%

·2-min read
A general view of electricity pylons in Mumbai

By Sudarshan Varadhan

CHENNAI (Reuters) -India's electricity demand grew 4.1% in October from a year earlier, leading to a shortfall in supply of 1%, government data showed on Monday.

Energy demand has been boosted by increased economic activity after the second wave of coronavirus infections subsided and led to a shortage of coal that forced India's northern states to cut power last month for up to 14 hours a day.

The data showed that coal-fired power generation rose 1.8% in October from a year earlier, while solar energy output increased by 28.4%.

Surging demand and high global prices have left utilities scrambling for coal, India's dominant fuel for power generation, despite record supplies from state-run Coal India, which has a near-monopoly of production.

Coal India said on Monday it had supplied a record 364.4 million tonnes from April-October, 19% higher than the previous year.

"Against coal consumption of around 1.8 million tonnes per day by the power sector, the supply from Coal India and other sources has been around 2.2 MTs during the last week of October, with Coal India accounting for the major share," the miner said in a statement.

India's Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi on Monday urged Coal India to increase production to ensure power plants had 18 days of coal stock by the end of November, while reiterating a target to achieve an output of 1 billion tonnes by 2024.

India's power supply shortage of 1,201 million kilowatt hours (KWh) in October was the worst since January 2017, data from federal grid regulator POSOCO showed.

Coal's share in India's electricity generation jumped to 70.6% in October from an average of 66.5% in September, the data showed.

Over a third of India's coal-fired capacity now has inventories of three days or less, latest data from the power ministry shows. The average coal inventory held by power plants would last six days, half the average of 12 days over two months ago.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Susan Fenton)

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