Tangedco’s coal supplies are expected to improve as fresh imports are likely to arrive at Kamarajar Port in Chennai by Monday. Like other big states, Tamil Nadu is facing coal shortage. Although the state’s thermal capacity is just 4320 MW, even for this capacity, there is a shortage.
Tangedco is facing two types of problems in using coal to generate power. The first is the shortage of local coal and the second is shortage of rail rakes to transport coal from Paradip Port in Odisha and the Visakhapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh.
“We need 22 rail rakes each day to transport coal from the above two ports. But as of now we are getting only 14 rakes. We are looking at other alternatives to transport coal and one is to bring coal from the Mahanadi Coal Mines,” said a senior Tangedco official.
Towards this end, Tangedco has floated tenders to transport coal from Odisha and the bids will close on April 27. “We plan to purchase 2.6 lakh tonnes of coal from the Mahanadi Coal Fields, which is a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd. The coal will be transported from the mines to ports by rail and then through sea to Ennore (Kamarajar) and Tuticorin ports,” said the official.
The movement of coal is set to begin by May and go on till June end. In the tender, Tangedco has said that the bidder must have experience in moving a minimum of 65,000 tonnes of coal from the mines either by road or rail. The company must have transported coal in the last three years and have a turnover of Rs20 crore.
Meanwhile, steps have been taken to import coal from Indonesia. “Tenders have been floated and imported coal will land soon in Ennore and Tuticorin ports. The imported coal will cost much more as the international coal price recently touched $200 per tonne and has settled now at $145 per tonne. Thus power generation using imported coal will cost Rs7 per unit,” said the official.
Tangedco does not have any alternative other than importing coal even though the generation cost will be Rs 7. “Power in Electricity Exchange costs Rs 12 per unit and at times even at this rate, power is not available in the exchange as 12000MW from various private power generators situated in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have shut due to non-available of coal. Thus the Electricity Exchange is short by 12000MW but the demand is very high,” said the official.
“It is only industrial states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat which are facing problems due to coal shortage. We cannot stop power supply to industries and this is the main reason for importing coal,” said the official.