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Coal key in India now but could peak by 2040

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World Coal,

India’s use of coal could peak by 2040 if cleaner alternatives progress as expected, a new book has claimed, but coal remain the most critical fuel in the short term to provide energy and power economic growth.

The book Energizing India: Towards a Resilient and Equitable Energy System is authored by Suman Bery, Arunagha Ghosh, Ritu Mathur, Subrata Basu, Karthik Ganesan and Rhodri Owen-Jones and is the result of a three-year collaboration between the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), the Energy Resources Institute (TERI) and Shell.

In welcoming its publication, Suresh Prabhu, India’s Minister for Railways, said that the book “will start a public debate towards development long-term sustainable policies to strengthen the Indian energy sector.”

“It is a challenging time for policy makers with fluctuating fuel prices globally,” the minister continued, adding that the entire value chain of the energy sector was in need of innovation.

Among its key findings, the book forecasts that fossil-fuel-based energy could increase by two to four times its current level over the short to medium term despite what the book calls a “massive renewable energy evolution in India” as convention fuels – including coal – are required to support new renewable generation.

"Energy security and an integrated approach should lie at the heart of India's National Energy Policy,” said Dr Ghosh, CEO of CEEW and one of the lead authors of the book. “India should not be afraid of high import dependence, but it should intelligently evaluate the benefits and trade-offs from investing in domestic production versus imports over the next few decades in planning its fuel and technology transitions.”

India is currently aiming to dramatically increase its domestic production of coal in order to help meet its growing demand for energy. Government plans call for annual output to rise to 1.5 billion t by 2020 – and while many feel that may be optimistic, India’s coal production is likely to breach the 1 billion t mark by 2020, according to BMI Research.

Edited .

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