Use green energy to cut emissions, Unido tells India

Written by Economy Bureau | New Delhi , Sep 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2008, 07:12am hrs
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) has said that India should shift from coal-based thermal power plants to renewable energy-based power plants using solar, wind or hydro power to avert the adverse effects of climate change. Experts in Unido have said that even the estimated cost of generating power from renewable energy-based power plants is much less at around $1.75 million per megawatt of installed capacity, than the investments required for coal-based power plants.

There is an urgent need to shift from coal-based to renewable energy-based power plants such as such as solar, wind and hydro based power in India . If 20% of the capacity expansion foreseen in the 11 th Five-Year Plan is shifted from coal to renewable energy, India will be able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) by over 60 million tons per year, thereby helping contain the tide of climate change, the experts said.

During the 11 th Five-Year Plan period (2007-12), the government intends to add about 70,000 mw of power of which, nearly two-thirds 47,000 mwwould be based on coal based thermal power plants. Environmental experts estimate that 47,000 mw of coal fired thermal power plants with a plant load factor of 0.8 and working for 330 days a year would result in the generation of 300 million units of electricity annually, which corresponds to about 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (estimates of CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated for most power plants in India is in the range of 0.8 to 1.2 kg per unit of electricity produced).

Thus, emissions from coal-based power plants would account for over 27% of the total CO2 emissions for India as a whole, which presently are estimated at just over 1100 million tons of CO2 per year. Total CO2 emissions in India could go up to 1400 million tons per year by 2012, according to some estimates. Unido has pointed that Indian domestic coal reserves would exhaust by 2040 if the demand by consuming industries continued to grow at the current pace.

In this context, experts have welcomed the initiatives taken by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources, to chalk out plans to add 13,500 mw of renewable power in the country during the 11th Plan period, which would take the total installed capacity of renewable energy plants in India to 23,500 mw by 2011-12, including wind, biomass and small hydro power plants.