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Rising Thermal Coal Imports Amidst Escalating Summer Heat Waves

In April 2024, India witnessed a surge in thermal coal imports, marking a five-month high, driven by increasing temperatures and forecasts of prolonged heat waves. Data from Kpler reveals a consistent uptrend in imports, with April shipments hitting 16.23 million tonnes, an 11% month-on-month and 10% year-on-year increase.

Demand Surge and Analysis

The rise in imports is attributed to the anticipation of soaring summer temperatures, bolstering thermal coal consumption, particularly in the power sector. Despite a robust increase in domestic coal production, demand remains strong, resulting in declining stockpiles. Notably, April recorded the two highest weeks for inbound shipments since November 2023, emphasizing the heightened demand.

Power Sector Dynamics

Thermal power generation surged by 10.69% year-on-year in April, contrasting with an 8.43% decline in hydropower generation. Cumulative thermal power generation reached 123,504 gigawatt hours, while hydro power generation totaled 7,993 gigawatt hours. This underscores the pivotal role of thermal coal in meeting energy demands amidst weather fluctuations.

Forecast and Implications

With the forecast of continued hot weather conditions, May is anticipated to represent the pinnacle of Indian thermal coal imports for the year. The India Meteorological Department’s predictions of severe heat waves in various regions further reinforce the likelihood of heightened demand for cooling, consequently driving up imports during May. This aligns with the projections of Kpler’s Lead Major Dry Bulks Analyst, Alexis Ellender, who anticipates a peak in imports supported by rising hire rates for dry bulk carriers sailing from Indonesia to India.

Government Response and Outlook

Government officials foresee a surge in power demand as temperatures rise, particularly during the week beginning May 19. The proactive response includes preparations to address the increased cooling requirements amidst the predicted heat waves.

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