India’s Imported Coal Demand to rise to 62 MT in FY 19: Ind-Ra

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New Delhi: Credit Rating Agency India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has maintained a stable-to-negative outlook on the power sector for the remaining FY19, despite a rise in electricity demand and an increase in short-term prices.

The stable-to-negative outlook continues to reflect Ind-Ra’s expectation of a continued low plant load factor of 60.0%-62.0% of coal-based thermal power plants over the rest of FY19, because of large capacity additions in the past five years and domestic coal availability challenges. Ind-Ra expects India’s dependence on thermal power generation to remain high in the absence of any substantial improvement in power generation from other sources.

The agency has maintained a Stable Outlook on most of its rated power sector entities for the rest of FY19, as the agency expects the entities to continue to manage fuel and counterparty risks on account of a favourable tariff mechanism, a comfortable liquidity position and support from central and state governments.

Ind-Ra expects the dependence on coal-based power generation to continue despite a likely increase in capacity addition in the renewable segment, as capacity addition is low on an equivalent thermal basis owing to the low plant load factor in the renewable segment.

Given Ind-Ra’s expectation of healthy power demand growth in the rest of FY19 and thermal power capacity contributing to the required growth, coal availability becomes a key determinant for required power demand growth. Considering the historical growth rate of domestic non-coking coal production and offtake, Ind-Ra estimates imported coal requirement to increase to 62.0 million tonnes in FY19 from 56.0 million tonnes in FY18 to meet incremental power generation. Hence, there could be higher imported coal usage in FY19 than that in FY16-FY18, when imported coal usage declined. According to Ind-Ra, in a scenario of lower-than-required growth in domestic coal output, short-term power prices would remain firm and are likely to be determined by the marginal cost of energy production undertaken using imported coal.

Ind-Ra estimates project internal rate of returns to decline to a single-digit level in view of the recent aggressive bidding for wind power projects.Ind-Ra believes a high unhedged forex exposure from the depreciating Indian rupee further lowers projects’ internal rate of returns. Moreover, access to the banking system may tighten, in case bidding continues to remain aggressive.

 

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