Provisional data from research firm OreTeam has indicated that Indian coal imports rose 12% in May from the year previously, as power companies struggled to meet demand as high temperatures drove customers to raise the use of fans or air conditioning.
While coal use rose in the US over the 2013/14 winter due to exceptionally cold whether, it was an exceptional heatwave that drove Indian consumers to race for supplies of the black stuff.
Electricity demand hit multi-year highs in many states over the last two months as temperatures soared, forcing the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to firefight public anger over frequent blackouts.
Despite a shortage of coal in India, the fuel still supplies over half of the country’s power generation.
Imports continue to march higher, jumping to their biggest for the month of May in at least three years at 15.6 million t, said OreTeam research head Prakash Duvvuri.
India's coal imports stood at 13.9 million t in May 2013 and 15.2 million t this April, according to OreTeam.
OreTeam collects data from its representatives at ports and in mining regions. India's government does not regularly release such numbers.
A stronger rupee has also made imports more attractive. The partially convertible currency gained 2% against the US dollar in May.
India's total coal-based power capacity rose about 1.2% in May from April, according to the Central Electricity Authority.
Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson
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