Integrated energy policy need of the hour: Coal Secretary

By: |
September 8, 2020 2:45 AM

Coal powers almost three-quarters of the country’s electricity generation in India, and half of the total energy consumed. The government estimates that the country will need 892 million tonnes of the fuel in FY30—around 40% higher than current levels— for power generation.

Coal powers almost three-quarters of the country’s electricity generation in India, and half of the total energy consumed.

To address the transition in energy sources, where renewable sector is seen to gradually have a larger share, an integrated energy policy with a balanced approach towards all forms of fuel is the need of the hour, Union coal secretary Anil Kumar Jain said on Monday. With new technology such as coal gasification coming in, coal can have a number of alternative uses in the future other than power generation, Jain added. The secretary was speaking at the launch of the book titled ‘Future of Coal in India: Smooth Transition or Bumpy Road Ahead?’ published by Brookings India.

Coal powers almost three-quarters of the country’s electricity generation in India, and half of the total energy consumed. The government estimates that the country will need 892 million tonnes of the fuel in FY30—around 40% higher than current levels— for power generation. The fuel is also deeply intertwined into the country’s economy not only as a source of employment, but a significant source of revenue for the Central government, state governments and the railways. The secretary also pointed that the removal of coal would also warrant the government to find alternative sources of revenue.

“Renewable energy growth has been strong but won’t be enough to avoid more coal,” said Rahul Tongia who leads energy and sustainability studies for Brookings India. “India’s focus should be on cleaning up coal, instead of wishing it away,” Tongia, who is also a co-editor of the book, said. Though gradually increasing in terms of installed capacity, the intermittent and limited hours of power supply from renewable energy render it unattractive for state-owned discoms, which have to spend more on making backup arrangements. The nameplate tariffs of some solar/wind based projects are currently cheaper than coal, but only when the sun shines and the wind blows.

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