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India’s October power shortage worst since March 2016

CHENNAI: 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. 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. 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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