Coal: Coal dependence hasn’t slowed power sector’s clean energy transition

In the updated Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India has committed to achieving 50% non-fossil based installed electricity capacity by 2030, Minister of Renewable Energy and Power RK Singh informed Parliament on Wednesday.
India has made it clear it will continue to use coal-fired plants to meet the growing demand for electricity due to which the consumption of coalis expected to go up by 8% in the current financial year.However, at the same time the country is also transitioning toclean energy at a rapid pace that is among the fastest in the world.
The share of non-fossil fuel sources in India’s total installed electricity generation capacity reached 43.82% as on 31 October, 2023, Singh said.
So far, a total of 186.46 GW capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources has been installed in the country as on 31 October, 2023, which includes 178.98 GW Renewable Energy and 7.48 GW Nuclear Power. In addition, 114.08 GW of capacity is under implementation and 55.13 GW capacity is under tendering, the minister said.
Renewable Energy Programmes/Projects are being implemented in all the states/UTs of the country and the following specific measures/steps have been undertaken to promote development of renewable energy in the country:
Permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100 percent under the automatic route,
Waiver of Inter State Transmission System charges for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by 30th June 2025.
Specifying the minimum share of consumption of non-fossil resources by designated consumers, including Distribution Companies, up to 2029-30,
Setting up of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission to RE developers for installation of RE projects on a large scale,
Laying of new transmission lines and creating new sub-station capacity under the Green Energy Corridor Scheme for evacuation of renewable power,
Government has issued orders that power shall be dispatched against Letter of Credit or advance payment to ensure timely payment by distribution licensees to RE generators Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) to facilitate sale of Renewable Energy Power through exchanges.
National Green Hydrogen Mission launched with an aim to make India a global hub for production, utilization and export of Green Hydrogen and its derivatives. The Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy and Power has informed that this is expected to lead to development of 5 MMT Green Hydrogen production capacity per annum by 2030.
Green Hydrogen has the potential to replace fossil fuels including natural gas, either as a source of energy or as a feedstock, thereby contributing to reduction in dependence on import of fossil fuels.
The Mission envisages substitution of Grey Hydrogen with Green Hydrogen in industries such as fertilizer production, petroleum refining, steel, shipping, etc., thus reducing carbon footprint and dependence on imported fossil fuels. The quantum of such reduction in imports is estimated at Rs 1 lakh crore by 2030.
The Government is also working on new technologies such as Small Nuclear Reactors to fulfil its commitment to clean energy transition.
Small capacity atomic power plants, popularly called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), with their unique features of modularity, scalability, small footprint and improved safety present themselves as an attractive option for repurposing of retiring coal-based thermal power station sites, Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space, Jitendra Singh, informed the Parliament on Wednesday.
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is implementing various schemes and programmes for development and deployment of renewable energy, under which an allocation of Rs 7,033 crore was made in 2022-23 which was then increased to Rs 7,848 crore for 2023-24.

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