The Future of India’s Electricity Sector: Moving away from Coal?

Free Public Lecture

The Future of India’s Electricity Sector: Moving away from Coal?

The Indian electricity sector has grown significantly since Independence. In the early 80’s the share of large hydro in electricity generation was about 40%. Over the last three decades the share of fossil in the electricity generation has increased to more than 80%. Coal accounts for about 75% of the total electricity generation. At present the Indian power sector uses about 500 million tonnes of coal and 38 million tonnes of lignite. Though India has significant reserves of low sulphur high ash coal, the increasing demand for electricity has resulted in an increase in coal imports (currently about 150 million tonnes from Indonesia, Australia)

India’s nationally determined contribution based on the Paris agreement commits to having 40% non fossil power installed capacity by 2030. India has a target of installing 175 GW of grid connected renewable power capacity (solar PV, Wind, biomass by 2022). India has been successful in creating a policy regime to attract investments in large solar power plants and the tariffs have reduced significantly.

This talk will examine the challenge of moving away from coal. What is the minimum share of coal in the power sector in 2035? What are the challenges of high renewable energy penetration? How would we account for variability? What will be the impact on the economy and growth? What are the implications on affordability of electricity and access? We discuss these issues in the context of India.

Rangan Banerjee is the Forbes Marshall Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Energy Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay – a Department that he helped found in 2007. He has been involved in setting up a MW scale solar thermal power plant cum testing facility and has been the mentor to Team Shunya-India’s first team in the Solar Decathlon final. He works on energy efficiency, modelling of energy systems, energy planning and policy.

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