Power Station Coal Stockpiles – the Ups and Downs

Managing the delivery of coal by rail to India’s power plants might become a little easier now that Piyush Goyal has control of both the coal and rail ministries, but over the last three years, the challenge of delivering fuel at a steady rate has proven very real.  From record low stockpiles in late 2014, a build-up over 18 months led to serious over-supply and  concerns that the excess coal sitting around at the power plants might self-combust.  Eighteen months later again, and near-record lows are once more a concern.

These seasonal ups and downs, and the longer-term downward trend, are seen more readily by plotting the (smoothed) day-to-day changes in the power plant coal stocks.

The periods of increase have become skimpier and shorter, and the periods of run-down longer and deeper over the last three years.  But this is an issue of balance – in the long run the amounts involved are still relatively minor compared to the throughput. It will be interesting to see whether supply will adapt if renewables lead to first a steady-state and then a decreasing rate of thermal coal use in the power plants.



  1. Hi! Where did you get the data for Power Plant Daily Coal Stocks from 2014-2017? I tried to find at CEA website and I wonder is there any compiled data for its Daily Coal Report? Thank you!

    • Hi Kania, the data we present was compiled from the “All India Total” values at the bottom of each daily report, which can be found in the Archive section of the CEA website (Home > Reports > Reports Archive), then select the year, month and “Daily Coal”. You may then select a specific day from that month. We’ve compiled this data-set to examine the trends over time, so you don’t need to – but by all means verify the data by sampling some daily values from the CEA site and comparing with our graphs.

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