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India Aims to Raise Coal Output to 1.4 Billion t/yr by 2027



November 14, 2023 - India plans to increase coal production to 1.4bn t/yr by 2027, up from the projected output of 1bn t in April 2023- March 2024 fiscal year, to meet an anticipated increase in demand from utilities.

Delhi has also set an ambitious target to raise coal output further to 1.577bn t by 2030, India's coal ministry said on 13 November. It was not specified if the target is set for the calendar or fiscal year.

India will need an additional coal supply of 400mn t/yr to feed 80GW of new thermal power capacities that are scheduled to become operational by 2030, the ministry said.

The estimate of 400mn t coal demand has been done at 85pc capacity utilisation and the actual requirement could be lower owing to expected increase in contribution from renewable power, it added.

The ministry is working towards its production enhancement plan to ensure adequate availability of domestic coal for the utilities. The plan includes opening new coal mines, expansion of the existing mines and producing more from captive and commercial coal mines.

The production plans for year 2027 and 2030 will far exceed the likely domestic requirement of thermal power plants in the country, the ministry said.

Coal output was 507.02mn t over April-October, the first seven months of India's 2023-24 fiscal year, up by about 13pc from a year earlier. Coal dispatches during were 541.73mn t April-October, up by 12pc from a year earlier.

But India's rising production has not been enough to meet higher coal-fired power generation demand from utilities. The country's coal-fired generation, which meets the bulk of India's power requirements, rose to 111.13TWh in October from 83.59TWh a year earlier, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). October's coal-fired generation was also higher from 103.34TWh in September.

The increase in power demand has led to a rise in coal burn at utilities, leading to a sharp inventory drawdown at power plants. Combined coal inventories at Indian power plants reached 22.3mn t as of 11 November, CEA data show.

The stocks were equivalent to eight days of use, and fell from 23.53mn t as of 30 September and 29.99mn t at the end of August, prompting authorities to order utilities to boost imports.

Coal stocks have started building up again and mines had an inventory of 41.6mn t and total stock including in transit and at captive mines was at 73.5mn t, the ministry said.

India's power ministry has ordered domestic coal-fired utilities to increase the percentage of imported coal in their blends to 6pc by weight from 4pc earlier, effectively reverting to the earlier blending ratio this year. This directive is valid until March 2024. The ministry also directed coal-fired power plants that use imported coal, with a combined capacity of 17.5GW, to boost power generation until 30 June 2024.

India's coal imports rose on the year in September following three consecutive months of falls as strong coal burn by the power industry offset firm domestic coal production.

The country's coal imports were up by 1.96mn t on the year to 13.78mn t in September, the highest level since May, according to shipbroker Interocean's data. But on a year-to-date basis, the country's overall imports remain below 2022 levels, as combined imports during the first three quarters of this year fell by 5.84mn t to 118.85mn t.