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Coal-based power plants’ PLFs remain muted in November

FE Bureau
utilisation level, coal-based power plants, economic slowdown, electricity usage, plant load factor, PLF, power plants, NTPC

The utilisation level at coal-based power plants remained muted in November amid the slowdown in electricity usage. The average plant load factor (PLF) of these power plants was 51.4%, against 60.5%in the corresponding month last year. The falling electricity usage had pushed PLFs to an all-time low of 48.9% in October.

According to available data, the lowest annual average thermal PLF was recorded at 52.4% in FY86.

Conventional power generating companies are undergoing additional pressure with pan-India electricity demand falling for the fourth straight month in November. As first reported by FE, electricity consumption in the country fell 5.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) in November, following a steep 12% decline in October.

Power plants owned by the states, which comprise a third of the country’s installed coal-based electricity generating capacity, recorded a 15.9 percentage points y-o-y drop in PLF levels to 43.1% in November. Central government-owned plants' average PLF fell 13.3 percentage points to 60.2%.

The average PLF of NTPC plants dropped 15.9 percentage points to 63.9%.

Few major private company-owned units where PLFs fell the most (y-o-y) are Essar’s 1,200 MW Mahan unit (4,369 bps) and Adani’s 1,200 MW Udupi plant (3,891 bps). The Nigrie unit of Jaiprakash Power Ventures saw its PLFs falling to 31.2% in November from 61.3% a year ago. November PLF of CLP India’s 1,320 MW Jhajjar power plant fell (3,922 bps) to 19.2%. Sembcorp’s 1,320 MW Gayatri power plant’s PLF dropped to 36.1% from 71.4% a year ago.

According to a recent KPMG report, PLFs of many thermal power plants would fall to 35-40% if the country sets up 130 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2022. According to the Central Electricity Authority, PLF of 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%.