Coal will continue to have a prime place in India’s total energy mix for the next many years but data shows that the country’s coal boom may have been over a couple of years ago, much earlier than expected.
Over the past two years, the country’s coal use has increased by an average of just 2.2%, a sharp fall from the previous 10 years when average annual growth was over 6%.
The findings, published by Greenpeace’s Energydesk on Wednesday , are significant because India, the world’s third largest CO2 emitter after China and the US, is seen as the next big coal frontier. Though the country’s per capita carbon emission is much less than these top two emitters, the decline in overall use of coal will help India achieve its goal under Paris climate accord. India has committed to produce 40% of its electricity from non-fossil sources of energy by 2030 under the deal.It, therefore, has planned to scale up targets for renewable energy capacity from 30GW by 2016-17 to 175 GW by 2021-22.
The report shows that the renewable sector is certainly booming in India due to increasingly cost-competitiveness of solar and wind energy installations. “India’s demand for the carbon-heavy fuel is not sky-rocketing and the country’s energy needs will do nothing to arrest coal’s global decline,“ said Ashish Fernandes of Greenpeace energy.
The Greenpeace, however, said there were a number of new coal-based power plants in the pipeline. It said the coal industry has experienced troubles, with many plants running less than half the time due to an over-capacity crunch. It also noted that the slowdown in coal consumption growth was largely due to the cement, iron and industrial power generation sectors burning less.