India Affirms Long-Term Commitment to Coal Expansion Despite Global Pressures
In an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol, India’s Minister for Coal, Mines, and Parliamentary Affairs, Pralhad Joshi, emphasized the nation’s unwavering commitment to expanding coal production beyond the targeted doubling by 2030. The decision, he stated, is driven by the projected steep surge in India’s power demand in the coming decades, prioritizing domestic energy needs over mounting global pressure to reduce fossil fuel usage.
No Reduction in Coal Production Beyond 2030, Affirms Minister Joshi:
Minister Joshi categorically stated, “There is no question of any reduction in coal production after 2030. For the next 40 years at least, coal is going to stay (as a key energy source) in India.” Despite global efforts to shift towards cleaner energy alternatives, India remains resolute in its reliance on coal, which currently accounts for about three-quarters of the country’s power generation.
Recent Growth in Coal Production Amidst Renewed Demand:
After facing declines in 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s coal production has rebounded significantly, registering a nearly 13 percent increase in 2021-22 and a subsequent 15 percent rise in 2022-23. Minister Joshi attributes this resurgence to the country’s escalating power demand, which continues to outpace the growth of renewable energy capacity.
Coal’s Vital Role in India’s Power Generation Landscape:
Coal remains a crucial component, contributing to approximately three-quarters of India’s power generation. Despite ambitious plans to achieve 500 gigawatts (GW) of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030, the nation is grappling with the challenge of meeting its increasing power requirements. Minister Joshi pointed out, “Even if 50 percent of that is met by renewable energy sources, there is still going to be a huge need for thermal power.”
India’s Stance on Coal at International Platforms:
India, along with China, notably opposed the complete phasing out of coal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) in 2021. Despite initial resistance, the country has strengthened its position and decided to actively add coal capacity to meet its burgeoning power demands.
Record-Breaking Peak Power Demand and Future Projections:
India’s peak power demand reached a record 240 GW in 2023, surpassing the government’s projection of 230 GW. Projections indicate that this demand is expected to further escalate to 256.5 GW in 2024-25. Minister Joshi expressed confidence in meeting this rising demand, stating, “In FY23-24, we are going to hit the 1 billion ton, or 1,000 metric tonne (MT), mark of coal production for the first time.”
Flexibility in Production Targets to Meet Demand Surges:
Highlighting the coal ministry’s preparedness, Minister Joshi asserted that if demand surpasses the government’s projections, coal production will be further increased. The production target for FY24-25 stands at 1,111.6 MT, with a commitment to adjusting it based on the evolving energy landscape.
In summary, India remains steadfast in its commitment to coal as a dominant energy source, citing the necessity to meet the surging power demands in the foreseeable future. Despite global pressures, the nation’s strategic focus on prioritizing domestic energy requirements underscores its resilience in navigating the evolving energy landscape.
The image added is for representation purposes only