India Power Minister Says Country Will Add More Coal-Fired Plants

The leader of India’s power sector has said the country is preparing to add as much as 56 GW of coal-fired generation capacity by 2030 in order for the country to meet growing demand for electricity. He also said India must invest in energy storage, in concert with supporting more wind and solar power development, to reach the country’s goal of 500 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2030.

Bloomberg News reported that Power Minister Raj Kumar Singh made the remarks in an interview last week in New Delhi. The increase in coal-fired capacity would represent about a 25% jump above the country’s current 204 GW of coal-fueled generation.

Singh said India will continue to support investment in renewable energy, but he said officials will prioritize “reliable” power to further economic growth.

“My bottom line is I will not compromise with my growth,” Singh said. “Power needs to remain available.” Singh said India also will import coal as needed to buttress its domestic supply of the fuel.

Coal Imports from Russia Fall

Officials on Sept. 22 said the country’s imports of thermal coal from Russia fell this month for the first time in four months, in part due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on Russia’s energy industry. India primarily imports coal from Indonesia; the country’s total imports of thermal coal and coking coal hit a record high of more than 25 million metric tons this summer. Power demand in India this year has been growing at the fastest rate in nearly four decades. Coal-fired generation accounts for about 75% of the country’s consumption of coal.

Coal India, a state-run coal supplier, recently announced it has ordered the import of at least 12 million metric tons of coal over the next year to address shortfalls at utilities, which have struggled this year to maintain their coal inventories in the face of rising demand for electricity.

Indian officials already have said they will delay the closure of some of the country’s older coal-fired power plants, while calling for an increase in output from domestic coal mines. Officials in early September extended a deadline for coal-fired power plants to install equipment to cut emissions of sulfur by two years, the third time that date has been pushed back. India initially set a 2017 deadline for the country’s thermal power plants to install flue gas desulfurization, or FGD, units to cut sulfur emissions. That deadline was amended by region, ending in 2022, then extended again last year to 2025.

Officials now say power plants will be forced to retire if they do not comply to emissions standard by the end of 2027.

500 GW of Clean Energy

Singh has reiterated that the power ministry is still working toward the goal of 500 GW of clean power generation capacity by the end of the decade; Prime Minister Narenda Modi has said that goal is important for India to reach of a goal of net-zero emissions of carbon from the power sector by 2070.

Government officials have said India wants to almost double its current power generation capacity, from both thermal and renewable resources, to 820 GW by the end of this decade. Singh said the country will need to develop more energy storage, and attract investment that combines storage with wind and solar power.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

SHARE this article