An analysis by two advocacy groups reveals that hinging on the coal-powered thermal power plants is detrimental to not only India's sustainable development goals but also unnecessary in the light of India’s energy needs. Details here.
The report stated that India can meet peak demand in Financial Year 2030 even if it retires its old coal plants and stops building new coal beyond those under construction.
Taking note of the change in India’s power sector landscape, advocacy groups have pointed out that coal powered power plant projects that are in the pipeline would compromise the country’s development goals both economically and in terms of its commitment to sustainable development goals. These proposed power plants would generate 27 gigawatts of power.
The findings were concluded in a report titled ‘India’s Zombie Threat – 27 GW of Unnecessary Planned Coal Power Plants’ jointly published by Ember, an international climate and energy think tank and Climate Risk Horizon, a Bengaluru-based climate advocacy group.
“Analysis by Ember and Climate Risk Horizons (CRH) shows that 27 GW of prepermit and permitted new coal power plant proposals are now superfluous to requirements and will likely end up as “zombie” plants— assets that will be neither dead nor alive. These surplus plants, if built, will suck in scarce resources and impede India’s renewable energy (RE) ambitions. But they can be cancelled without needing to sacrifice the power system’s ability to meet future demand,” the report notes.
Furthermore, the report also stated that India can meet peak demand in Financial Year 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,” it highlighted.
It also suggested that daytime peak demand would be easily met with India’s huge planned solar capacity, while claiming that evening peaks will be most effectively met by additional battery storage, at a lower cost than building new coal powered plants.
The report also argues that switching investment from coal projects to renewables and battery storage would save the Indian power system an additional Rs. 43,219 crores (US $4 billion) 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.
“As India recovers from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, how the country uses scarce public resources will be absolutely crucial. By avoiding the unnecessary “zombie” coal plants, India can not only save lakhs of crores of rupees, but also lower power costs and reiterate its commitment to the success of its clean energy transition goals,” Aditya Lolla, Senior Electricity Policy Analyst, Ember was quoted.