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Coal in India: A Comprehensive Guide 2022

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Coal is one of the essential sources of energy in the world. It supplies about a quarter of the world’s primary energy and two-fifths of its electricity. Coal is used to generate electricity, produce heat, and manufacture products. 

Coal in India

  • India has the fifth-largest coal reserves in the world.
  • India is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, after China.

India imports two types of coal. And when it comes to coal, there are two main categories: coking coal and non-coking coal. Coking coal is the type of coal that is used to produce coke, while non-coking coal is used for other purposes, such as power generation. The difference between the two types of coal is their chemical and physical properties. Coking coal has a higher carbon content and a lower ash content than non-coking coal.

  • Coking coal: It contains high carbon content and has less moisture, less sulphur, and less ash content. Coking coal forms coke when heated in the absence of air. It is used in the iron and steel industry to make pig iron.
  • Non-coking coal: It is used in thermal power plants to generate power. The sulphur content of non-coking coal is high; that’s why this coal cannot be used in the iron and steel industry.

Caol Crisis in India? April 2022 

Coal supplies at more than 100 thermal power plants in India went below the critical mark (less than 25% of the needed stock) in the last week of April 2022, while less than 10% in over 50 plants throughout India. States like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Gujrat have raised the alarm about the shortage of Coal. 

Is there a coal crisis?

  • Coal is abundantly available and has shorter gestation periods. Coal-based plants have lower capital costs than hydel and nuclear plants, making them the most viable enabler of energy security.
  • Coal contributes to 55% of India’s energy requirements. Pandemic-related interruptions hampered Coal stockpiling. Mining operations were suspended throughout the world to prevent the virus from spreading. Now With household demand for power increasing and the advent of summer 2022, along with the unexpected increase in economic activities, a demand-supply mismatch has emerged in India. Read More about Coal Crisis in India at the end of the article.

India lacks sufficient stocks of high-quality coal, primarily coking coal, which is used as a raw ingredient in steelmaking and other industries. The majority is imported from Indonesia, South Africa, Russia, and Australia. According to India’s current import policy, coal can be freely imported (under an Open General Licence) by customers depending on their commercial prudence. The Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and other steel-producing companies are importing coking coal to bridge the requirement and indigenous availability gap and improve quality. Non-coking coal is imported by coal-fired power plants, cement factories, captive power plants, sponge iron plants, industrial customers, and coal traders.

By 2030, the Indian government intends to reduce its reliance on coal-fired power to 32% from 52% in 2022.

Such a move is required because:

  • The approach aligns with the government’s COP26 commitment to achieve 500 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity based on the non-fossil fuel by 2030.
  • India aims to increase the share of renewable energy (RE) sources in power generation to 50% over the same time period.
  • Renewable energy costs have dropped significantly, with the lowest introduced tariff for solar energy being $1.99 per unit.
  • For high-quality coal, India is heavily reliant on imports.
  • The use of unscientific methods to mine coal in India has resulted in low productivity in India’s coal sector.

Coal in India

This article is about coal in India. Types of Coal Found in India, Major Coalfields in India, Coalfield Map of India, We will also look at the power generation in India Fuelwise in 2021. India has been facing a coal shortage recently, which has affected India’s power generation capacity. We will also discuss the factors responsible for the shortage of coal in India. The article contains two maps: the coal map of India Thermal Power Plants in India Map, which you can also download from the link at the end of the article. Now let’s jump into the topic.

Import of Coal In India

  • Under the current import policy, coal can be freely imported (under an Open General Licence) by consumers themselves, depending on their commercial prudence and considering their requirements.
  • Non-coking coal in India is being imported by coal-based power plants, cement plants, captive power plants, sponge iron plants, industrial consumers, and coal traders.
  • Coking coal in India is being imported by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and other steel manufacturing units to bridge the demand and indigenous availability gap and enhance quality.
  • Coke is primarily imported by pig-iron manufacturers and consumers in the iron and steel industry who use mini-blast furnaces.
  • India imports approximately 300–400 million tonnes of coal annually, with the majority of the coal coming from Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa. About 600 million tonnes of coal is produced by Coal India each year for domestic consumption.
  • China is the world’s largest producer and the world’s biggest consumer of coal; since 2011, it has made up more than half of the world’s total coal consumption. 

coal imported by India countrywise in 2019 ( coal in india )

  • Indonesia – 49%
  • Australia- 20%
  • South Africa- 16%
  • USA- 5%
  • Russia- 3%
  • Others- 8%

Export of Coal by India

  • Despite being one of the largest importers of coal, India exports coal to its neighbours, primarily Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
  • According to the most recent Indian export data, India exported coal to the world worth USD 54 million in Q1 of 2021 and USD 35.9 million in Q2 of 2021. In 2020, Nepal had the highest share of 80 per cent, followed by Bangladesh (12.5 per cent) and Bhutan (6.9 per cent).

India’s coal-based thermal power plants account for 208.8 GW, or 54% of India’s 388 GW of installed power generation capacity. Most of India’s power is generated from coal. The state-owned Coal India fulfils 80–85 per cent of the coal needs of India, while the rest is met through imports. 

India has the fifth-largest coal reserves in the world. Also, India is the third-largest importer of coal in the world.

The Chart Below shows the Total Power Generation in India Fuelwise as of 31 August 2021 (Source: Ministry of Power Government Of India)

Power generation in india fuelwise

Fossil Fuel2,34,85860.90%
Total Fossil Fuel2,34,25860.40%
Non-Fossil Fuel
Renewable Energy Sources (Incl. Hydro)1,47,09637.90%
Wind, Solar & Other RE1,00,68325.90%
Total Non-Fossil Fuel1,53,87639.60%
Total Installed Capacity3,88,134100%
(Fossil Fuel & Non-Fossil Fuel)
power generation in india
power generation in india

Coal in India – types of coal in india

So you can see clearly how important coal is in India and for the Indian economy. Now let’s dive into the basic details of the coal found in India.

  • Coal is a sedimentary, organic rock that is flammable and composed primarily of carbon and other elements such as hydrogen, sulphur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is used mostly for generating thermal power and smelting iron ore. Coal is known as “black gold.” India faces a shortage of good quality coking coal, so India partially imports good grade coking coal for the iron and steel industries. 
  • The largest coal reserves (coal mines) found in India are in the following states: 

Jharkhand>ODISHA>Chhattisgarh>West Bengal>Madhya Pradesh>Andhra Pradesh

Coal in India– How much is there?

Coal in India: Reserves

  • As of 2016, India had 107,727 million tonnes (MMst) of proven coal reserves, ranking fifth in the world and accounting for approximately 9% of the world’s total coal reserves of 1,139,471 million tonnes (MMst).
  • India has proven reserves of 111.5 times its annual consumption.
  • This means it has approximately 111 years of coal remaining (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).

Largest Blocks of Coal in India 

Deucha-Pachami Mines: Coal in India

  • The Deucha-Pachami-Dewanganj-Harinsinga coal block is the world’s second-largest coal block and the largest in India.
  • It is situated in the Deucha and Panchamati areas of Birbhum district, West Bengal.
  • It is West Bengal’s newest coal mine.
  • This coal mine or block is located in the Birbhum coalfield.
  • Because of the number of coal reserves, this coal mine is Asia’s largest coal mine or coal block
  • A thick coal seam is trapped between thick layers of rocks, mostly basalt, in the block; the presence of these thick basalt layers makes coal mining difficult here; thus, foreign investment and technology will be required for mining these huge blocks.

Formation Of Coal

  • Coal is formed from dead plant remains.
  • Coal was formed approximately 300 million years ago when the earth was covered in swampy (marshy) forests.
  • Some of the plants died and fell into the swamp waters as they grew. New plants sprouted to take their place, and when these died, more sprouted.
  • Over time, the swamp accumulated a thick layer of rotting dead plants. The earth’s surface changed, and water and dirt washed in, halting the decaying process.
  • More plants sprouted, but they, too, died and fell, forming distinct layers. Many layers had formed over millions of years, one on top of the other.
  • The weight of the top layers and the water and dirt compacted the plant matter’s lower layers.
  • Pressure and heat caused physical and chemical changes inside the plant layers, forcing oxygen out and leaving behind carbon-rich deposits. The material that had been planted eventually turned into coal.
  • This peat is converted into low-carbon coal, i.e., lignite.
  • More heat and pressure convert lignite into bituminous coal and finally into anthracite.

Types of Coal in India

Coal in India can be studied by classifying it into different categories based on its content, usage, and origin. Let us see each division one by one.

Types of coal in india based on carbon content and order of formation

  • PEAT– This type of coal contains about 40% CARBON. It is found in North-East India.
  • LIGNITE—The carbon content of lignite coal is 40–60% carbon. It is considered low-quality coal, and brown- lignite deposits in india is found in Neyveli in Tamil Nadu.
  • BITUMINOUS: The carbon content of bituminous is 60–80%. It is soft coal, and the coal found in India is mostly of the bituminous category.
  • Anthracite: contains the highest amount of carbon, 80–90%. It is mainly found in the Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir.
India coal mines map
India coal mines map – Jharia coal mine in India map – Neyveli coal mines in India map – bituminous coal found in India 

Types of coal in india based on usage

  • Coking coal: It contains high carbon content and has less moisture, less sulphur, and less ash content. Coking coal forms coke when heated in the absence of air. It is used in the iron and steel industry to make pig iron.
  • Non-coking coal: It is used in thermal power plants to generate power. The sulphur content of non-coking coal is high; that’s why it cannot be used in the iron and steel industry.

Types of coal in India based on origin – indian coal reserves

Gondwana Coal

  • Gondwana coal is about 250 million years old.
  • Gondwana coal accounts for 98 per cent of India’s total coal reserves and 99 per cent of its coal production.
  • Gondwana coal is moisture-free and high in phosphorus and sulphur.
  • The carbon content of Gondwana coal is lower than that of Carboniferous coal, which is 350 million years old but almost non-existent in India due to its much younger age.
  • Gondwana coal is India’s metallurgical quality and superior quality coal.
  • The Damuda series (Lower Gondwana) has the finest coalfields, accounting for 80% of India’s total coal production. The Damuda series of rock systems [named after the Damodar river] is home to 80 of India’s 113 coalfields.
  • The Gondwana coal in India appears in the valleys of specific rivers, such as the Damodar (Jharkhand-West Bengal); the Mahanadi (Chhattisgarh-Odisha); the Son (Madhya Pradesh-Jharkhand); the Godavari and the Wardha (Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh); the Indravati, the Narmada, the Koel, the Panch, the Kanhan, and many others.
  • The most important Gondwana coal in India is found exclusively in the peninsular plateau, especially in the Damodar, Godavari, Mahanadi, and Sone valley.
  • Jharia (JH) is the largest coal mining fields in India, followed by Raniganj (WB).
  • Other important coal mining centres are:
Jharkhand coal minesJharia, Giridih, Karanpura, Ramgarh, Bokara, Daltonganj
Odisha coal minesTalcher, Rampur
Madhya Pradesh coal minesUmaria, Sohagpur, Singrauli
Chhattisgarh coal minesCorba, Chirimiri, Jhilimili, Bishrampur
West Bengal coal minesRaniganj, Mejia
Andhra Pradesh coal minesSingareni, Tandur, Kothagudem, Yellandu
Maharashtra coal minesWardha, Ballarpur, Chanda, Kampati
Uttar Pradesh coal minesKakri, Bina, Dhughichua, Kharia
coal mining in indialargest coal producing states in india
coal mines in India in map
singareni coal mines in India map – coal mines in India in map – singrauli coal mines in India map – major coal mines in India map 

Tertiary coal

  • Tertiary coal is 15–60 million years old.
  • The carbon content is very low, but it is high in moisture and sulphur.
  • Tertiary coalfields are mostly found in extra-peninsular regions. Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, the Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala are all important areas.
  • Tertiary coal in India is also found in Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Pondicherry.
  • Tertiary coalfields (coal mining areas) are found in the following states of India:
Arunachal Pradesh
Coal in India

Coal fields in India – coal mines – where is coal found in india

The map of coal mines in india showing the important Coal fields in India– coal deposits in india

coal mines in india map
coal mines in india map – coal mines in india upsc – coalfields in india map 

The Coal Crisis in India

Coal in India April 2022– According to the National Power Portal11 of the 14 imported coal-fired power plants had critical stocks as of April 12. Their daily stock need is 1.53 lakh tonnes, and they have 1.48 MT on hand, which will last for 9.6 days.

National Power Portal

The National Power Portal: The National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, planned, built, and hosts the NPP. The portal is an essential step toward automating numerous power generation, transmission, and distribution operations in India. It has also enabled continuous monitoring of aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT & C), which has resulted in a reduction in AT & C losses.

Its implementation is overseen by the Central Electricity Authority. The Ministry of Power, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), Generation Utilities (GENCOs), Transmission Utilities (TRANSCOs), and Distribution Utilities are the key stakeholders in the NPP.

Thermal power plants in India were facing a severe coal shortage in early 2022. The coal stock reserve came down to an average of four days of fuel across a large number of thermal power stations.

  • The government’s recommendation is that thermal power plants should hold 14 days’ worth of coal stock.
  • This shortage of coal is more severe in non-pithead plants or plants that are located far from coal mines.
  • As shown above, coal-based thermal power plants in India account for 208.8 GW, or 54 percent of India’s 388 GW of installed generation capacity.

The main reasons behind India’s coal shortage –

  • As the Indian economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, a sharp rise in power demand combined with supply issues has led to the current coal shortage across the power plants in India.
  • Other reasons for the supply crunch include lower than usual stock accumulation by thermal power plants in the April-June 2021 period and the continuous rainfall in coal reserve areas in August and September 2021, which led to lower production and fewer despatches of coal from coal mines.
  • High international prices of coal have also led to power plants’ cutting imports, which has also increased the problem.

Thermal power plant in India

The Map showing Thermal Power Plants in India (Learn about the Ports in India with Map)

thermal power plants india map
thermal power plants india map

Major thermal power plants in india

Power PlantLocationState
Amarkantak TPSChachaiMadhya Pradesh
Anta Thermal Power StationAntaRajasthan
Arasmeta CPP (private)JanjgirChattisgarh
Auraiya Thermal Power StationDibiyapurUttar Pradesh
Badarpur TPPBadarpurNCT Delhi
Bakreswar TPSSuriWest Bengal
Barauni TPPBarauniBihar
Bellary TPPKudatiniKarnataka
Bhusawal TPSDeepnagarMaharastra
Bokarao Thermal Power Station 'B'BokaroJharkhand
Chandrapura Thermal Power StationChandrapuraJharkhand
Chhabra STPPMothipuraRajasthan
Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram TPPYamunanagarHaryana
Dr Narla Tatarao TPSIbrahimpatnamTelangana
Durgapur Thermal Power StationDurgapurWest Bengal
Ennore TPSEnnoreTamilnadu
Farakka STPSNagarunWest Bengal
Faridabad Thermal Power PlantMujediHaryana
Feroz Gandhi Unchahar TPPUnchaharUttar Pradesh
Gandhinagar TPSGandhinagarGujarat
Giral Lignite TPSThumbliRajasthan
Guru Gobind SSTPGhanauliPunjab
Harduaganj TPSHarduaganjUttar Pradesh
IB Thermal ppBanharpaliOrissa
Indraprashta PSDelhiNCT Delhi
JSW Vijanagar PP-II (private)VijaynagarKarnataka
Kahalgaon STPSKahalgaonBihar
Kaparkheda TPSKaparkhedaMaharastra
Korba STPPJamani PalliChattisgarh
Kutch Lignite TPSPanandhroGujarat
Mettur TPSMetturdamTamilnadu
Nashik TPSNashikMaharastra
Neyveli TPS 1NeyveliTamilnadu
North Chennai TPSAthipattuTamilnadu
Obra TPSObraUttar Pradesh
Panipat TPP 2AssanHaryana
Panki TPSPankiUttar Pradesh
Paras TPSVidyutnagarMaharastra
Pariccha TPSParicchaUttar Pradesh
Ramagundam STPSJyothi NagarTelangana
Rayalaseema TPSCuddapahTelangana
Rihand TPPRihand NagarUttar Pradesh
Rosa TPP (private)RosaUttar Pradesh
Sabarmati TPS (Private)AhamadabadGujarat
Satpura TPSSarniMadhya Pradesh
Sikka TPSJamnagarGujarat
Singrauli Super Thermal Power StationShaktinagarUttar Pradesh
Sipat TPPSipatChattisgarh
Surat Lignite TPSNani NaroliGujarat
Talcher TPPTalcherOrissa
Tanda TPPVidyutnagarUttar Pradesh
Tuticorin TPSTuticorinTamilnadu
Ukai TPSUkai damGujarat
Vindhyachal STPSVidhya NagarMadhya Pradesh
Wanakbori TPSWanakboriGujarat

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