Skip to main content

IEEFA: India has a record level of stockpiled coal dampening need for new domestic mines

April 08, 2021

8 April 2021 (IEEFA India): India has stockpiled a record 132 million tonnes of coal – enough to run India’s power plants for two months – greatly exceeding the average of the previous five years, finds a new briefing note by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

India has stockpiled 132 million tonnes of coal

The note by analyst and guest contributor Charles Worringham says that while power plants have reduced their stocks from record peaks at the start of the year, an even greater quantity has built up at coal mine pitheads managed by Coal India and SCCL, reaching 103 million tonnes.

“As coal quality degrades with prolonged storage and has a heightened risk of spontaneous combustion, operators and the community would be very keen to see the reduction of these stocks being given priority over new coal production,” says Worringham.

“The record-level coal stockpiles should be able to meet any continuation of the current electricity demand surge even if domestic coal production, which dipped this financial year, remains static into the near future.

The stockpiles are likely to put downward pressure on domestic coal production growth

“In fact, these large stockpiles are likely to put downward pressure on domestic coal production growth.

“While this could be seen as an opportunity to rethink the nation’s coal requirements in the near and longer term, Coal India remains intent on expanding production at the same time as new commercial mining blocks are on offer.”

A second tranche of coal block auctions representing some 67 potential new mines was recently announced. This is despite India experiencing lower-than-expected coal use, in part due to the effect of the pandemic.

“Our analysis shows coal stockpiles are growing disproportionately relative to thermal power generation,” says Worringham.

Coal stockpiles are growing disproportionately relative to thermal power generation

“And the financial year just ending, FY21, also saw Coal India claim success in their drive to substitute imported coal with domestic production.

“If stockpiles can continue to build up in a year when, despite the pandemic, total electricity generation was stable, coal production slipped, and some imports were substituted, it does not augur well for massive production increases.

“This situation puts both Coal India’s billion tonne production plans for FY24 and the expansion of commercial domestic coal mining increasingly at odds with the reality of flat demand and a record quantity of stockpiled coal.”

Read the briefing note: India Coal Stockpiles at Record High at Close of Financial Year 2020-2021

Media contact: Kate Finlayson (kfinlayson@ieefa.org) +61 418 254 237

Author contact: Charles Worringham (cwor@gmx.com)

About IEEFA: The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) examines issues related to energy markets, trends, and policies. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy.

Charles Worringham

Researcher Dr Charles Worringham is closely tracking India's energy transition and is a guest contributor with IEEFA. Formerly an academic at QUT in Brisbane and the University of Michigan working on movement disorders and movement neuroscience, Dr Worringham taught multiple courses including research methods and statistics, and supervised several PhD students.

Go to Profile

Join our newsletter

Keep up to date with all the latest from IEEFA