Polluting coal to remain predominant fuel in India’s energy basket


Even as India targets net zero emissions by 2070, polluting coal is set to remain as the predominant fuel in its energy mix in foreseeable future.

As per the 19th Electric Power Survey, out of the all India power generation installed capacity of 6,19,066 MW by the end of 2026-27, coal-based projects would have a high 40 percent share at around 2,38,150 MW.

However, this level of environmentally polluting coal-based capacity is a big fall from current levels where coal plants account for more than 50 percent of installed capacity of roughly around 3,40,000 MW.

At the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed India to net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. He also announced an increase in the country’s installed renewable energy capacity goal from 450 GW to 500 GW by 2030, aimed at meeting 50 percent of the country’s energy needs, up from 40 percent previously.

The power survey, however, clearly makes a case where India would fully utilize its fossil fuel reserve to increase the share of per capita energy consumption of Indian citizens closer to that of world standards. Only then, equity would be ensured on its plan to cut emissions. But work on adding renewable capacity would continue to move along.

What is heartening to see that the government power survey clearly indicates a big addition in renewable capacity in the country that is set to become the largest energy provider to the country over the next five years. So, renewable capacity is set to increase from current levels of just about 1,00,000 MW to over 2,75,000 MW by 2026-27. This is much more than the coal capacity.

The all India power generation installed capacity by the end of 2026-27 is estimated to be 6,19,066 MW which includes 2,38,150 MW coal, 25,735 MW gas, 63,301 MW hydro, 16,880 MW nuclear and 2,75,000 MW renewable energy Sources to fully meet the electricity demand projected as per the 19th Electric Power Survey on all India basis.

As per the recent study carried by Central Electricity Authority on Optimal Generation Capacity mix for 2029-30, the likely all India installed capacity in 2029-30 is estimated to be 8,17,254 MW which includes 2,66,911 MW coal, 25,080 MW gas, 71,128 MW hydro, 18,980 MW nuclear, and 4,35,155 MW renewable energy sources.

The focus of the government is to increase the share of renewable energy which is available in plenty within the country to meet the requirement of the country and also export to neighboring countries.