Column: India's coal and electricity shortages ease: Kemp

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People are silhouetted as they stand in the balconies during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, April 5, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

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LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - India's coal shortage and electricity blackouts have eased in recent weeks as the seasonal decline in power demand has enabled generators to rebuild depleted coal stocks and the grid to operate with greater stability.

The grid's ability to meet power demand was stretched to breaking point last month by a combination of strong underlying growth in demand, the seasonal peak, and fuel shortages, which forced many generators offline.

But the seasonal decline in power demand as temperatures have cooled since then has allowed generators to rebuild stocks and helped improve the grid’s margin of spare capacity (

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Coal stocks at power stations have climbed to 13.7 million tonnes, up from just 8.1 million at the end of September, though still far below the level two years ago of 21.2 million.

Power generators' stocks are now sufficient for around 8 days of current consumption, up from just 4 days at the end of September, according to the Central Electricity Authority.

Stocks are still rated critically low at 63 out of a total of 135 plants, but the number is down from 116 in mid-October, and those plants account for 75 Gigawatts of capacity, down from 142 GW last month.

As temperatures have fallen, air conditioning loads have declined, reducing the extreme strain on the generation and transmission system, which resulted in rolling blackouts in some areas.

India's grid supplied 22.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the seven days ending on Nov. 11, down from 27.1 billion kilowatt-hours in the seven days ending Oct. 13.

As a result, average daily grid frequency has returned close to the target of 50 Hertz and under-frequency excursions have become smaller and shorter.

The overall picture is one of a power system able to meet demand much more comfortably than a month ago.

Related columns:

- Beset by coal shortages, India's power grid struggles to meet demand (Reuters, Oct. 12) read more

- China's widening electricity crisis caused by coal shortage (Reuters, Sept. 28) read more

- Worldwide energy shortage shows up in surging coal, gas and oil prices (Reuters, Sept. 24) read more

- China's grid struggles to keep up with booming electric demand (Reuters, Jan. 15) read more

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Editing by Pravin Char

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