Coal Capacity in India


    In News 

    • According to a report prepared by EMBER, India does not require additional new coal capacity to meet expected demand growth by the financial year 2030.

    Major Highlights of the Report 

    • Impacts of new coal power plant: 
      • The new coal power plant proposals of 27 gigawatts (GWs) of capacity could jeopardise the prospect of the ambitious renewable energy target of achieving 450 GW by 2030.
      • These surplus “zombie” plants that would be neither dead nor alive – require about ?2,47,421 crore ($33 billion) of investment. 
        • Once incurred, these wasted investments will lock Discoms and consumers into expensive contracts 
    • Renewable Energy (RE) commitments
    • The report finds that India’s public and private power generators have already made over 300 GW of renewable energy (RE) commitments.     
      • Furthermore, India can meet peak demand in FY 2030 even if it retires its old coal plants and stops building new coal beyond those under construction. 
        • By FY 2030, India will have a total firm capacity of about 346 GW in addition to 420 GW of variable renewables capacity to meet an estimated peak demand of 301 GW.
        • While the daytime peak demand would be easily met with India’s huge planned solar capacity, the report shows that evening peaks will be most effectively met by additional battery storage at a lower cost than building new coal
    • Suggestions 
      • Review Proposals: India needs to watch out for new coal power plant proposals of 27 gigawatts (GWs) of capacity that could potentially become superfluous to the overall country electricity requirements by 2030.
      • Coal Capacity: India doesn’t require new coal capacity beyond the 33 GW of new coal plants already being built, to meet demand growth by FY 2030.
        • Even with a 5% annual growth in power demand projection, the analysis shows that coal-fired generation in FY 2030 will be lower than in FY 2020, as India achieves its 450 GW RE and other non-coal targets.
      • Switching investment from coal projects to renewables and battery storage
        • The analysis reveals that switching investment from coal projects to renewables and battery storage would save the Indian power system an additional ?43,219 crores a year from 2027 onwards in terms of reduced power purchase cost, in addition to Capex savings, without sacrificing the power system’s ability to meet future demand.
        • The smart option is to divert these resources to renewables and storage to build a cheaper, more resilient grid for the future.

    Coal In India 

    • Coal is the main source of energy in India and is found in a form of sedimentary rocks and is often known as ‘Black Gold’.
    •  It originates from organic matter wood. When large tracts of forests are buried under sediments, wood is burnt and decomposed due to heat from below and pressure from above.
    •  The phenomenon makes coal but takes centuries to complete.
    • Coal can be classified based on carbon content as follows-
      • Anthracite– It is the best quality of coal which carries 80 to 95% carbon content.
        •  It has the highest calorific value.
        •  It is found in small quantities in Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Bituminous– It carries 60 to 80% of carbon content and a low level of moisture content. It is widely used and has a high calorific value. It is found in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
    • Lignite–  It is often brown. It carries 40 to 55% carbon content. It has high moisture content so it gives smoke when burnt. 
      • It is found in Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam), and Tamil Nadu.
    • Peat–  It has less than 40% carbon content. It has low calorific value and burns like wood.

    Ownership of Mineral:

    • The State Governments are the owners of minerals located within the boundary of the State concerned.
    • The Central Government is the owner of the minerals underlying the ocean within the territorial waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.

    Major Statistics:

    • Coal is the most important and abundant fossil fuel in India. It accounts for 55% of the country’s energy needs. The country’s industrial heritage was built upon indigenous coal.
    • Indian coal offers a unique eco-friendly fuel source to the domestic energy market for the next century and beyond. Hard coal deposits spread over 27 major coalfields, are mainly confined to eastern and south-central parts of the country.
    • The lignite reserves stand at a level of around 36 billion tonnes, of which 90 % occur in the southern State of Tamil Nadu.
    • India is the second-largest importer of coal despite having the world’s fourth-largest reserves, and coal powers nearly three-fourths of the country’s electricity demand.