Saturday, October 16

Indian power stocks rally as electricity demand rises

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CHENNAI — Indian power producers NTPC Ltd, Tata Power and Torrent Power, and Coal India Ltd, the country’s largest producer of the fuel, rose on Wednesday, spurred by rising demand.

State-run NTPC, India’s biggest power producer, and miner Coal india, which produces over 80% of India’s coal, recorded their biggest intraday rise in more than seven years. Both stocks have pared gains from the day’s highs.

Tata Power rose by as much as 9.6% to an nearly 14-year high, while Torrent Power, another private power producer, rose to a record.

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India’s power demand has increased after the easing of coronavirus-related curbs across the country, causing coal shortages at utilities.

Coal-fired power accounts for over 70% of India’s annual electricity consumption. India’s power demand rose by 13.2% in the first eight months of 2021, after declining for the first time in over three decades in 2020.

India’s federal power ministry flagged a coal shortage over a month ago, and has since convened emergency meetings with stakeholders to address challenges, but the coal deficit has widened not shrunk.

As of Sept. 27, coal-fired utilities on average had stocks that would last five days, data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) showed. Federal guidelines mandate utilities should have at least two weeks of coal stocks.

A total of 112 of the 135 coal-fired plants had stocks that would last less than a week, compared with over 70 plants the same time last month. Over 70 plants had stocks for less than three days on Sept. 27, the CEA data showed.

Indian utilities are struggling with a coal shortage even though Coal India’s supplies to power plants have exceeded pre-COVID levels.

The world’s largest coal miner supplied about 206 million tonnes of coal to utilities from April to August, 27% higher than the same period last year and up 8% compared with April-August 2019, it said this month. (Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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