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Energy tide turning in India, with cheaper renewables, and coal losing favour

Will India Ever Need Another Coal Plant?, The country’s energy infrastructure is changing rapidly as solar prices plummet. , KRUTIKA PATHI@krutikapathi03, May 25, 2017

“…..over the last five months, the price of renewable energy has plummeted so low that analysts have hailed it as both “record-breaking” and “unsustainable” in the same breath. In fact, the pace of change in the country’s energy infrastructure has been so swift that even researchers are scrambling to keep a steady pulse on a constantly developing beat.

As China slowly cut down on its own coal infrastructure, the International Energy Agency in 2015 projected India to be the next coal center in the near future. It stated that “half of the net increase in coal-fired generation capacity worldwide [through 2040] occurs in India.” Nearly a year later, in July 2016, the nonprofit CoalSwarm put out a report that found 370 proposals for coal plants in the works across the country.

The findings revealed a pretty explosive conclusion: that India’s outsized plans for coal energy would wipe out climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Merely a few months after the report, the researchers at CoalSwarm were surprised by a new twist.

In December 2016, the Central Authority of India (CAI) laid out an electricity plan that said no new coal plants, beyond those already under construction, are needed for at least the next decade. The CAI also put forth new renewable energy goals—a production of 275 gigawatts (GW) generated from solar, wind, and hydro by 2027.

This means that the majority of the plants that CoalSwarm tracked are now going to be shelved. It’s also a show of India’s push towards reforming its energy infrastructure: the country added more renewable power than thermal in the 2016 fiscal year.“It was hard to keep up,” says Christine Shearer, a senior researcher at CoalSwarm and lead author of the report. “The country is supposed to be at the heart of coal plant growth, but it’s interesting to see the tide go against what we often hear about China and India—that they’re going to keep building coal plants—when actually, they’re both stalling production.”…..

As prospects for India’s coal sector are falling, so is the price of renewable energy. In turn, the country’s future outlook, if all goes accordingly, is pretty good news for the planet. India first set a record-low price in February this year when a kilowatt-hour of solar energy was selling at Rs. 2.97 ($0.046 USD). This month, the country hit another record low—the price of solar dropped 12 percent further, currently selling at Rs. 2.62 ($0.041 USD) per kilowatt-hour. “To spell it out, new solar is 15 percent cheaper than existing domestic coal. No one, anywhere in the world, was expecting solar to get that cheap for at least a decade,” Buckley says, “and India just got there this year.” It’s a marked shift for India—which, in a matter of months, went from potentially thwarting global climate goals to possibly saving them.

The news of falling solar prices in India, and the country’s recent (but significant) efforts to divest from coal as the fundamental energy source, stands in contrast to the current scenario in the U.S. Analysts fear that President Trump’s “America First Energy Plan” will put the country behind China and India in the push to reinvigorate renewable solutions. “What gives me hope is that at a time when Trump is busy trying to destroy the Paris Agreement, the two most important countries in the world for the agreement are China and India,” says Buckley.

According to a study released last week by the Climate Action Tracker, India and China are on pace to “overachieve” their climate goals by 2030. ……

Solutions like off-grid solar panels are one kind of sustainable technology that could address the distribution problem, says Harish Hande, co-founder of SELCO, an enterprise that introduced off-grid solar energy in the Siddhi community in 2010. Within a year, 100 homes in the area were connected to power in the Western Ghats region. SELCO has been nationally awarded for its energy work in under-served households and areas—but, as Hande points out, a long-standing solution has to go beyond the mere mechanics of the supply chain. “It’s much larger than providing electricity,” he says, “and there have to be enough public-private partnerships that cross over education, health, and the bigger ecosystem for sustainable energy services to become more accessible.”


May 27, 2017 - Posted by | ENERGY, India


  1. David Blume’s “Alcohol Can Be a Gas” is an excellent study on readily available sources of power. There was such a source in the Gulf of Mexico before the Halliburton/British Petroleum unfortunate accident, I don’t know the situation today. And we can use water for hydrogen cells.

    Comment by marblenecltr | May 27, 2017 | Reply

  2. There may be room on the Ring of Fire for at least one more nuclear power plant.

    Comment by marblenecltr | May 27, 2017 | Reply

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