Largest Coal Producer is Investing Renewable Energy

Coal India Limited (CIL) is planning to invest in a 3,000-megawatt solar energy project as a joint venture with state-run NLC India to bring more renewable energy sources to India. Around 50% of the energy requirements are met by coal as of 2013, and CIL contributes around 82% to the total coal production in India.

CIL is the country’s biggest coal producer and was included in the 20 top carbon emmiters of the world. The company aims to produce 710 million tons of coal in 2020-21, according to India’s coal ministry. That’s a little more than all US coal companies produced in 2019, according to figures from the US Energy Information Agency.

India, second only to China, which is the largest consumer of coal in the world, currently uses about one billion tons of coal annually. According to BP Energy Outlook 2019, coal’s share in India’s primary energy consumption is predicted to decline from 56% in 2017 to 48% in 2040. But that is still nearly half of the total energy mix and way ahead of any other source of energy.

coal mine in India

For Inda and the World

The chairman Pramod Agarwal said in an interview with Reuters, that they are aware that the current model of coal is going to change in the next 20-30 years, that solar and renewable energy will become the major provider of power. They are planning to aggressively bid on solar contracts and reinvest their earnings in solar panel production.

India has signed the Paris Agreement and they are looking to meet their goals of reducing emissions by up to 35% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Showing some change, last year India’s emissions fell for the first time, partly because of the impact of Covid19, and partly due to the changing demand for coal. India hopes to be able to generate 175GW of renewable energy capacity by next year, and they have a target of 450GW by the end of the decade. In its Annual Report for 2014–15, CIL informed that it has planted around 82 million trees over an area of around 33700 Hectares.

solar panels in India's renewable energy plan

2020 as a Turning Point for India and the World.

Last March, the Indian government put into effect one of the most stringent coronavirus lockdowns in the world. Within a few hours, all 1.3 billion people in the country were ordered to stay at home for several weeks. But everything didn’t stop, as bids for new solar projects hit record lows last year, undercutting coal as the cheapest source of electricity. The country also awarded landmark supply contracts for flexible renewable energy, an important step in addressing the limitations of intermittent wind and solar.

Energy major Adani, well known for its coal business, has also invested heavily in solar power projects, with its clean power wing Adani Green Energy winning a contract from the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to provide 8GW of solar power over the next five years. The $6bn deal will also see Adani agree to a 25-year power purchase agreement that the company dubbed “the world’s largest solar award”, as it looks to move away from its reputation as a fossil fuel giant.

“India has reduced its emission intensity by 21 percent over 2005 levels,” said Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies for Australia and South Asia for IEEFA. “Our renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world. It will reach 175 gigawatts before 2022.”

renewable energy in India

Renewable Energy is growing steadily

As the power demand is expected to triple by 2040 as India’s population continues to grow, fossil fuels are still expected to grow some more before the clean energy market really thrives. While there are challenges, there may be cause for some optimism. As the country sorts out the interconnected issues of air pollution, water scarcity, and energy security, many experts say they’re starting to see a future for India where coal will no longer be such a big player.

Another interesting read is concerning one of the byproducts of the coal-burning power plants. Gypsum, used for drywall and fertilizer, is a waste product from the air scrubbers, that makes up over 45% of the gypsum supply in the US. Check out the full article here, Can you Recycle Drywall? Who is Recycling Gypsum?

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