India's October power shortage worst since March 2016

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A man is silhouetted against the backdrop of Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) as overhead power cables are seen in the old quarters of Delhi, India, September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

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CHENNAI, Oct 13 (Reuters) - India is suffering its worst power shortage in October since March 2016 due to a crippling coal shortage, a Reuters analysis of data from federal grid regulator POSOCO showed.

Power supply fell about 750 million kilowatt hours short of demand during the first 12 days of October, a deficit of 1.6% that was the worst in five and a half years, the data showed.

The October shortfall was already the biggest in absolute terms for a single month since November 2018, even with 19 days of October still left. The shortfall this month already accounts for 21.6% of the total deficit this year.

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Northern states such as Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and the eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar, were the worst affected, registering supply deficits of 2.3%-14.7%.

Increased economic activity after the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has driven up demand for coal leading to a supply shortage, forcing northern states such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand to cut power for up to 14 hours a day. read more

India's power ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday the capacity of power plants under outage because of a coal shortage had fallen nearly to 6 gigawatts (GW), from 11 GW on Tuesday.

Coal accounts for over 70% of India's electricity generation, and coal-fired plants make up 208.6 GW, or 54%, of India's installed power capacity.

India's dependence on coal-fired power increased to 69.6% in October from 66.5% in September, the data showed, exacerbating the coal shortage amid a decline in output from other sources such as wind and hydro.

More than 60% of India's 135 coal-fired power plants have fuel stocks of less than three days. The share of output from renewable energy so far in October fell to 8.34% from 11.33% in September, while hydro energy output fell by 1.3 percentage points, the data showed.

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Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan Editing by Peter Graff and Steve Orlofsky

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