Coming clean on coal

Source: The post is based on an article “Coming clean on coal” published in The Indian Express on 2nd December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Relevance: coal-based energy generation and concerns associated with it

News: The Union Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, RK Singh, highlighted the importance of coal-fired plants in meeting developmental requirements.

What did he say?

He said that India is planning to gradually lower the use of coal for electricity generation but on the other hand India is also looking to expand its coal power capacity for its developmental needs.

He said that the share of this fossil fuel in the energy mix will come down in percentage terms but not in absolute measure.

What is the current usage of coal in India and future estimation?

India’s 50 percent electricity is generated from coal-fired plants which is expected to come down to 30 per cent in the next 10 years.

However, India is planning to increase its electricity generation capacity to 865 GW from 407 GW. Therefore, 40 GW of this additional power will come from coal-based plants.

This energy generation from coal-based plant was also a concern in the CoP-26 meeting last year where countries accused India and China.

What were the decisions made in CoP regarding the usage of coal?

Countries in the CoP-26 decided to “phase down” their coal-based electricity generation.

However, the final draft of the agreement wasn’t successful and India and China were accused of opposing anti-coal stance. Even this year’s CoP-27 did not come with an appropriate conclusion regarding elimination of coal.

Moreover, the current geopolitical situation has changed the energy demand scenario of the world.

How the current geopolitical situation has changed the energy demand?

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has altered the demand of the energy sector worldwide. The conflict has caused the EU to restart its coal plants which were once importing clean gas from Russia.

According to the International Energy Agency, the EU’s coal consumption rose by more than 10 per cent in the first six months of 2022 and it is further expected to rise in the coming months.

Even though EU governments have said that the use of coal is temporary, its usage at a time when countries are planning to eliminate the use of fossil fuel is concerning.

What can be the course of action for India?

India has made remarkable efforts in expanding its renewable energy but due the unstable nature of renewable energies the dependence will be on coal-based plants. Further, new coal plants are more efficient as they emit less GHG.

Therefore, India must begin work on plans for an energy generation which has a negligible role for coal to achieve the net zero target by 2070.

Print Friendly and PDF