India’s government is analyzing a slower retirement of maturing coal-fired power plants as it also adds newer sites, a move that would keep fossil fuel capacity higher for years and potentially stall efforts to hit climate goals. Officials are considering a proposal to shutter less than 5GW of existing capacity by the end of the decade as the nation holds with increasing electricity demand and a global energy deficiency, according to people familiar with the matter. That compares with plans drawn up in 2020 that proposed closing about 25GW by the same date.
A pipeline of 30GW of coal projects that are in advanced stages of construction should be used to replace old and inefficient plants, and India should arrange investments in expanding its grid and decarbonization projects said, Sunil Dahiya, an analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
The world’s third-largest emitter doesn’t expect to hit net-zero until 2070 and is aiming only for half of its electricity generation capacity to use clean fuels by 2030, giving the nation scope to continue relying on coal for decades more. Together with China, India frustrated efforts to set a date to phase out the use of persistent coal power at last year’s Glasgow climate talks.
With gas prices hardly high, many new hydropower projects proving too complex, and a planned roll-out of renewables in its early stages, policymakers see a need to extend reliance on the country’s coal fleet. Other nations globally have also been responding to high demand and severe shortages of natural gas by burning more coal.