India walks fine line over green energy ambitions

India plans to reduce power generation from at least 81 coal-fired utilities over the next four years as part of a wide-ranging plan to focus on green energy.

According to the federal power ministry, the ambition is part of an effort to replace expensive thermal generation with cheaper green energy sources.

The plan aims to maximize green energy potential and save costs, the letter sent to top energy department officials of state and federal government said, but will not involve shutting down old and expensive power plants. 

India currently has 173 coal-fired plants.

“The thermal power plants in future shall operate up to the technical minimum to accommodate cheaper renewable energy when it is available,” the ministry said in a letter.

India is the world’s second largest consumer, producer and importer of coal, and the fuel accounts for nearly 75% of annual electricity generation.

However, the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter is currently 37% short of its end-2022 green energy target.

India expects the plan to reduce power generation by 58 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) from the 81 utilities to save 34.7 million tonnes of coal and cut carbon emissions by 60.2 million tonnes, the letter said.

The latest moves to reduce dependence on coal follow Germany’s Minister of Economic and Climate Affairs Robert Habeck and his Indian counterpart RK Singh recently signing a ground-breaking agreement on German-Indian hydrogen cooperation.

The cooperation agreement aims to establish a task force to promote the creation of a close links between the government, industry and research institutes of both countries. Furthermore, a roadmap with specific joint measures to support the increase of green hydrogen production will be developed.

Additionally, the task force will work on exchanging know-how on hydrogen regulation, safety procedures and sustainability criteria.

India is the world’s second largest consumer, producer and importer of coal, and the fuel accounts for nearly 75% of annual electricity generation.

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