ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Coal for Electricity Generation in India

The paper discusses the commitment on climate change negotiations and reflects why thermal power plants are not replaceable by renewables. It gives a glimpse on electricity demand and supply as well as coal availability. Accordingly, we formulate different horizontal scenarios for electricity demand and vertical scenarios for coal supply, thereby calculating the coal requirements for different demand scenarios. The results are validated with medium-term coal projections along with the actual coal consumption at power plants for producing electricity.

In the 1750s, the usage of coal fuelled industrialisation across the world. Mankind has enjoyed the speed and comfort of development but it has also led to greenhouse gases (GHGs) being emitted in large quantities contributing to global warming. Melting glaciers, intense heat waves, acidic and uneven rains, disappearing water in perennial rivers, and rise in sea levels are some of the consequences (Wang and Chameides 2005). Countries like India whose economy is primarily driven by monsoon-based agriculture are more vulnerable to it. Global warming is not a local effect, it rather affects the entire world. Though India’s per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emission of 1.9 tonnes is lesser than the 12.5 tonnes of Russia, and 15.5 tonnes of the United States (US), India realises its responsibility and has shown its commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. In this direction, India is set to reduce emission intensity of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 45% and also to achieve 500 gigawatt (GW) of installed capacity from renewable energy sources by 2030 (McGrath 2021; Agrawal and Tripathi 2019).

Though India’s sudden increase in coal-based generation and foray into coal import, building reserves at plants, ports, and railways sidings; cancelling passenger trains to facilitate coal transport may appear as a detour from the above-stated long-term commitments. The reason is, India’s energy-security concerns are enormous with more than 85% of petroleum requirements being imported (Chakraborty 2022); we cannot afford a Sri Lankan-style meltdown. We must live today to achieve the climate change goals of tomorrow. We need to continue to generate electricity from coal for the next two decades unless there is a dramatic discovery of gas or energy innovation.

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Updated On : 23rd Jan, 2023
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