India Halts New Coal Plants After 2022, Leaves 178 GW on the Drawing Boards
India plans to build no new coal-fired generating stations between 2022 and 2027 after plants now under construction come online between 2017 and 2022, according to a draft plan released for public consultation by the country’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
“As coal-based capacity of 50,025 MW [50 GW] is already under construction, which is likely to yield benefits during 2017-22, this coal-based capacity would fulfill the capacity requirement for the years 2022-27,” states the latest version of the country’s National Electricity Plan.
Over the next five years, India plans to more than double its clean energy capacity by installing 100 gigawatts of new solar and wind.
Greenpeace India said the plan essentially means suspending most of the 178 GW of new coal capacity on the drawing boards until at least 2027. “We welcome the draft plan’s recognition that there is no longer any economic or development rationale for new investments in coal power plants for the foreseeable future,” said climate and energy campaigner Nandikesh Sivalingam. “With India’s renewable energy sector taking off, it is now possible to reduce poverty, improve living standards, and provide power for all.”
The draft plan places the country’s demand for coal at 727 megatonnes in 2021-22, rising to 900 Mt in 2026-27—considerably less than a 1,000-Mt target for 2020 the government set last year, then subsequently withdrew.
The new draft plan “would put India on course to far exceed its pledges to the Paris agreement,” ClimateHome reports, citing Siddharth Singh of The Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had previously promised to generate 40% of the country’s electricity from non-fossil sources by 2040, conditional on funding and technology support from rich countries. But the latest plan “would mean the non-fossil share would increase to 53% as early as 2027, up from 31% today, without relying on international support.”
“This is indeed significant,” Singh said, “although historically India has lagged behind these targets.”
Last Wednesday, meanwhile, Energy Minister Piyush Goyal set a five-year timeline to phase out 11 GW of coal plants that are more than 25 years old. “That one action alone will not only help us bring in more efficiency in the operation of thermal plants, but will help us reduce millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that is being generated by the age-old plants,” he said. “It will help us reignite economic activity in the power sector.”