Buoyed by surge in power demand, electricity produced by conventional power plants in Q1FY20 reached 339 billion units (BUs) — a rise of 6.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) — increasing the plant load factors (PLF) of private generation units by 471 basis points to 59.8%. Hydro power plants produced 39.5 BUs in the quarter, 25% more than Q1FY19. Experts have attributed the surge in power demand to poll-related activities in the scorching summer.
Since electricity cannot be stored, generation is the most robust indicator of consumption trends. Rising utilisation rates is a good news for private power players after a dismal FY19, when their average PLF remained muted at 54.9%, undermining their debt-servicing capabilities.
The private coal-based power generation sector has been under stress for a long time due to lack of adequate demand and coal supply issues. Few major units where PLFs increased (y-o-y) are Reliance Power’s 1,200 MW Rosa units, Jaiprakash Power’s 500 MW Bina and KSK Energy’s 1,200 MW Mahanadi plant. Imported coal-based units of Tata Power and Adani Power, located in Mundra, also saw their PLFs significantly rising in the quarter to 80.1% and 80.7%, respectively.
The major units where PLFs fell (y-o-y) are GMR’s 1,050 MW Kamalanga, Sembcorp’s 1,320 MW Gayatri and Essar’s 1,200 MW Mahan plant.
JSW Energy’s 1,000 MW Karcham Wangtoo unit — the largest private hydro power plant — produced 1.5 BU in Q1FY20, an increase of 36%. NTPC’s coal-based PLF in the quarter was 71.7%, a drop of more than five percentage points y-o-y.