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India's state coal companies target installing 5.56 GW renewable power by 2030

Highlights

Total renewable capacity to rise to 7 GW

India's coal supply at 939.34 million mt in 2020-21

Watered down COP26 coal cut pledge

India's state-run coal companies are aiming to install 5.56 GW of renewable power capacity by 2030 and take other measures designed to cut CO2 emissions in line with recent pledges made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the Ministry of Coal said in a statement Nov. 18.

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The renewable capacity additions planned by India's largest coal miner Coal India Ltd. and its subsidiaries, along with other state-run coal miners Singareni Coal Company Ltd. and NLC India Ltd., will see an investment of over Indian Rupees 150 billion ($2.02 billion) by 2030, taking their combined installed renewable capacity to 7 GW, the ministry said.

"Since coal has to play a role of primary fuel for power generation in our country for the time being, until renewable sources fully cater to our energy demand, the Ministry of Coal, in line with the commitment [at COP26] has already moved forward with a comprehensive sustainable development plan," it said.

India has pledged to raise its renewable capacity target from 450 MW to 500 GW by 2030 and cut its emissions intensity per unit of GDP by 45% by then from 2005 levels. It has also set itself a net zero target for 2070.

India's zero-carbon generating capacity -- renewables, nuclear and hydro power -- stood at 156.35 GW at the end of October, representing 40% of national capacity of 390.79 GW, according to the New and Renewable Power Ministry.

India had a solar power capacity of 45.61 GW and wind power capacity of 39.69 GW at end August, Central Electricity Authority data showed.

Coal dependency

Coal India and other miners produced more than 700 million mt of coal in the fiscal year 2020-21, with raised targets aimed at reducing import dependence in subsequent years.

India's total coal supply stood at 931.34 million mt in 2020-21, including imports, Coal Ministry data showed.

India and China on Nov. 13 lobbied for a last-minute dilution in the language of the final agreement at COP26 around the coal pledge to "phase down" instead of "phase out" of unabated coal-fired power.

"I don't expect the phase down to start before 2040... right now it's a situation where it is only going to go up," said Partha Bhattacharyya, a director on the board of Canada-based coal exploration and development company Canada Colonial Coal International, and a former chairman of Coal India.

"As far as coal production and consumption is concerned, I don't see any possibility of that reducing from current levels... it will have to first go up, reach about 1.1 or 1.2 billion mt of production and 1.3 billion mt of consumption, that is where it should maybe peak and continue at that level for another 10 years before it starts gradually reducing," he said.

Under S&P Global Platts Analytics' Reference Case, India's power generation emissions of CO2 increase from 1.18 billion mt in 2021 to 1.51 billion mt in 2040.

Coal makes up 71% of India's power generation capacity.

India's coal supply:

(Unit: million mt)

Origin
2020-21
2019-20
Coal India Ltd
596.22
602.13
Singareni Collieries Company Ltd
50.58
64.04
Others/captive
69.29
64.7
Imports
215.25
248.53
Total
931.34
979.4
Source: Coal Ministry, India