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Summer, elections raise plant load factors of private power players in Q1

FE Bureau
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. (Representational image)

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.