India can ill-afford to do away with coal | india | Hindustan Times
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India can ill-afford to do away with coal

india Updated: Dec 21, 2015 00:18 IST
Aman Malik
India energy consumption

A labourer walks past mounds of coal at the Kankaria Railway yard in Ahmedabad. Indian depends on coal for more than two-thirds of its energy needs.(AFP Photo)

The Paris agreement on climate change comes at a time when India is committed to more than doubling its coal output in the next five years, although it has pledged to produce two-fifths of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

India depends on coal for more than two-thirds of its energy needs and can ill-afford to do away with it.

Coal secretary Anil Swarup says the climate deal will have no real impact on India’s goals to ramp up production of the country’s only cheaply and widely available source of energy.

“Given the compulsions of our development and our energy needs, we will have to continue to excavate coal but in a manner that it does not damage the environment,” Swarup told Hindustan Times. “We will do this by washing coal and by afforestation, which is already happening.”

In 2014, at 644 MT (million tonne), India was the largest consumer of coal, according to the 2015 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. In the past decade, India’s annual coal consumption has doubled from 400MT to more than 800MT.

This means, the country’s coal imports jumped by more than a third last year to 242.4MT, a figure the government hopes will come down. By 2017-18, India wants to completely stop coal imports.

Some analysts and executives have doubts on whether the targets are achievable or even necessary. Dipesh Dipu, a Hyderabad-based energy analyst, says the government’s goals, both on coal and renewable energy, are “far more ambitious than what the demand scenario looks like, at least at this point in time.”

Sunil Jain, chief executive officer at Hero Future Energies Ltd thinks a little over half of India’s target on solar energy is achievable.