Coal power plants in India can derail climate change agenda: report
New Delhi: India’s proposed coal-fired power plants—both under-construction ones and those on the drawing board—run the risk of either becoming stranded assets or jeopardising the country’s climate change goals if operated in full swing, cautions a study by researchers of the University of California and CoalSwarm, a data supplier on coal-based utilities.
In a study published in the American Geophysical Union journal Earth’s Future on Tuesday, the researchers argue that India’s planned 243 gigawatt (GW) of coal fired power capacity would preclude achieving a committed 33–35% reduction in the country’s 2005 electricity emissions intensity, by 2030, if the plants are run at a capacity of 65% or above.
It argued that future emissions from the proposed coal plants, “when combined with the commitments of all other countries, is itself not yet ambitious enough to meet the international goal of holding warming well below 2°C relative to the pre-industrial era.”
The study titled ‘Future CO2 emissions and electricity generation from proposed coal-fired power plants in India’, said it relied on CoalSwarm figures on under-construction, announced and pre-permit coal fired power projects. The government, however, has only data on projects which are underway, as power is a de-licensed industry. Experts Mint talked to concurred with the government data.
According to a parliamentary panel report on the sector tabled in March, there is 51.2 GW of coal-fired power capacity at “various stages of construction” which is likely to start generation by 2021-22. The country at present has a capacity of 327 GW, out of which 192 GW is coal-fired.
“On the ground, there is only about 50 GW of coal-based power which is under development, while the renewable energy target is to have 175 GW by 2022. The government has taken several steps to boost power demand including village electrification, the Make in India drive and simultaneously, a large energy efficiency programme to reduce energy intensity of the economy,” said Sambitosh Mohapatra, partner, energy utilities and mining, PwC India. Renewable energy has become price competitive, accelerating its adoption, Mohapatra said.