Coal India auction to non-power sector goes up sharply in November 2021

State-run Coal India auctioned 3.2 million tonnes of coal exclusively for the non-power sector in November, a senior company official said, more than five times the volume auctioned a year earlier and about eight times the allocation in September.

Coal India had temporarily paused auctions of coal to non-power customers and reduced contracted supplies in October, as it prioritised supplying Indian utilities which were battling the worst coal shortage in years.

The average price in the auctions in November was higher than a year earlier and the previous exclusive auctions for non-power consumers such as aluminium smelters and cement manufacturers held in September, the official said.

Non-power consumers account for about a quarter of India’s total coal consumption. India produces over 70% of its electricity using coal, and Coal India accounts for over four-fifths of the country’s output.

Surging power demand and high global prices in October left utilities scrambling for coal, India’s dominant fuel for power generation, despite record supplies from state-run Coal India, which has a near-monopoly of production.

Average daily coal-fired power generation in November was down 2.8% from October, an analysis of load dispatch data from federal grid regulator Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSOCO) showed.

The number of plants having supply agreements with Coal India with inventories of three days or less fell to 31, as of Nov. 29, latest data from the federal power ministry shows, compared with 44 out of the 135 plants in October.

India’s renewable output typically slows in the first and last quarters every year due to lower generation from sources such as hydro, solar and wind, increasing dependence on coal. The rise in power demand last month was driven by growth in electricity consumption in India’s most industrialised state Maharashtra.

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