Coal power plants’ PLF slips to below 50% on falling electricity demand

  • Nov 09, 2019
  • The Financial Express

Utilisation level of coal power plants — many of which are already distressed due to lack of adequate demand and coal supply issues — touched an all-time low in October, with their average plant load factor (PLF) at 48.9% amid falling electricity usage.

Conventional power generating companies are undergoing additional pressure with pan-India electricity demand falling for the third straight month in October, as first reported by FE. From available data, the lowest annual average thermal PLF was recorded at 52.4% in FY86.

PLF of private power plants fell to 50.7% in last month, 9.5 percentage points lower than October, 2018. Few major private company owned units where PLFs fell the most are Vedanta’s 1,980 MW Talwandi Sabo unit and Reliance Power’s 1,200 MW Rosa plant. The combined average PLF of Adani Power’s Mundra, Tiroda and Kawai plants fell 7.2 percentage points y-o-y to 70.4%.

JSW Energy’s Ratnagiri and Vijaynagar’s aggregate PLF drastically dropped to 54% from 94.4% a year ago. The Nigrie and Bina units of Jaiprakash Power Ventures saw their PLFs fall to 59.2% in October from 83.4% a year ago.

Thermal plants owned by the states recorded 19.5 percentage points y-o-y drop in PLF levels to 40.9% in October. Central government-owned plants’ average PLF fell 15.5 percentage points to 55.5%. The average PLF of NTPC plants dropped 16 percentage points to 59.8%. Renewable energy sources also decreased their generation by 6.4% y-o-y in the same month, in spite of a 15% rise in its installed capacity.

According to a latest KPMG report, PLFs of many thermal power plants would fall to 35-40% if the country sets up 130 giga-watt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2022. According to the Central Electricity Authority, PLF of the coal based stations is likely to come down to around 56.5% by FY22. Power generators find it difficult to service loans when PLFs run below 60%.

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