India's power demand has dropped over the months of March and April, as the countrywide lockdown resulted in the suspension of operations of industrial units across the country, Mumbai-based agency India Ratings said on Monday. The countrywide power demand in March declined by 8.9 per cent (year-on-year basis) to 98.8 billion units, even as the energy supply dropped to 9.2 per cent yoy. At 0.4 per cent, the energy deficit for the month of March 2020 has remained the same as for the same time period last year.
The credit rating agency pointed out that despite a declining power demand, the coal inventory at thermal power stations across the country rose by 45.4 per cent yoy to 45 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) on account of continuous coal production. "The coal inventory at thermal power stations rose 45.4 per cent yoy to 45.0mtpa, due to continued coal production, as coal is an essential service, despite the lower demand. Coal availability at pithead and non-pithead plants on 31 March 2020 remained at 19 days and 32 days, respectively," explained India Ratings.
Sounding a warning for the coming days, the rating agency said that a recovery in power demand remains uncertain "due to the uncertainty around any relaxation of the timelines of the lockdown period amid rising cases and its impact on economic growth."
The agency said that its calculations were based on data sourced from the Central Electricity Authority, Indian Energy Exchange and Coal India.
Giving a perspective on the country's coal production, the agency stated that state-backed Coal India Limited had increased its production by 6.5 per cent yoy to 84.4 million tonnes in March 2020. Higher coal production at Coal India's key subsidiaries, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (up 6.6 per cent yoy), South Eastern Coalfields Limited (up 21.8 per cent yoy) and Western Coalfields (up 16.8 per cent yoy), has been cited as the reason behind the increased production.
"However, coal production over FY20 was still marginally down 0.8 per cent yoy to 602.1mt, due to an extended monsoon and protests by employees in some of the mines," said India Ratings.