POWER UTILITY, PROJECT | Staff Reporter, India

India can not ditch coal in the future: World Coal Association

Its energy needs are too huge.

For a country like India, it’s not a choice between coal and renewables – both are needed and both will play a big role, according to the World Coal Association. 

Asian Power has reported in December that the Indian government's power policy making and monitoring body Central Electricity Authority has said that there will be no need for additional coal-based power generation from 2017 to 2022.

Renewables have an important role to play but coal will remain the driving force behind electrification and industrialisation and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal will continue to make the largest contribution to electricity generation in India through to 2040.

Here's more from World Coal Association:

“India’s energy needs are too huge for any suggestion that it will not need coal in the future. In a country where 244 million have no electricity and 819 no access to clean cooking facilities, it is impossible to find a solution without coal being part of the energy mix– Coal is essential to global efforts to achieving universal energy access," according to Benjamin Sporton, World Coal Association CEO.

There is economic and development argument for investments in new coal power plants in India for the foreseeable future. India has huge development and energy challenges, and the government has been clear that all sources of energy will be needed to power up the economy, including coal.

Although the competitiveness of renewables and gas-fired technology is likely to improve over time, coal is expected to remain the most affordable option through to 2035.

This report is a suggestion for the longer-term and represents one of many options available to India. It does not mean that this is the ‘correct’ path. Given India is exploring emerging technology such as battery storage we would encourage them to also support CCS.

In India there is an unsubsidised, fully commercial CCUS facility which has been operating since 2015. This CCUS project from Carbon Clean Solutions in the port of Tuticorin has been able to significantly reduce the costs associated with capturing the CO2.

There is an assumption that we can get rid of coal, and only by doing so can we meet climate objectives. This is false. Coal plays a critical role in the world’s energy mix and is going to do so for a very long time to come, especially for a country like India where the need for stable, reliable and affordable energy has never been greater.

It is vital that implementation of the Paris Agreement integrates environmental imperatives with the aims of universal access to energy, energy security and socio-economic development.

And rightly so, the Indian government is focussing on cleaner technologies, and is renovating, modernising and extending the life of existing power stations.

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