India expects lower rainfall in coal-producing areas, potentially easing power crisis – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India expects rainfall in the biggest coal-producing areas of its east-central region to be below the long-term average this year, potentially easing utilities’ coal shortages as there could be fewer disruptions to mining activity due to flooding.
Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, together account for nearly half of the country’s annual coal output. Coal accounts for nearly 75% of India’s power generation.
India expects overall rainfall during the annual monsoon to be 103% of the long-term average. Higher rainfall in other parts of the country could increase hydro power generation and irrigation-driven electricity demand could be lower, easing pressure on thermal power.
India has reversed a policy to cut coal imports to zero, invoked an emergency law to operate imported coal-based utilities and plans to reopen closed mines to address surging power demand, which is seen growing at the fastest pace in at least 38 years.
Domestic coal output typically dips during the annual monsoon period between June and September every year due to mining disruptions, and state-run Indian Railways also faces delays due to water-clogged tracks and route closures.
State-run Coal India, which produces 80% of India’s coal, reported the first fall in production in two decades in 2019/20, due to the heaviest rainfall in 25 years.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) expects rainfall in the coal-producing regions of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which together make up a quarter of India’s output, to be above average, it said on Tuesday.
The intensity of rainfall would be more critical than overall rainfall during a season. Relentless rains over short periods of time could cause mine flooding, even when overall rainfall during the monsoon is deficient.
Erratic rainfall patterns, which India has attributed to climate change, have impeded output in the recent past.
Sudden floods in 2019 in the Dipka mine, India’s third largest, halted operations for days, and it took over a month for resume production at full capacity.

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