India expects to invest 4 trillion rupees ($54.5 billion) in clean coal projects over the next decade as it seeks to tap domestic energy sources and curb imports, federal home minister Amit Shah said.
The investment will be made in clean coal facilities, including coal gasification and coal-bed methane, Shah said at a signing ceremony to develop new mines. He said coal power will be key to achieving India’s ambition of becoming a $5 trillion economy, a goal he said would be reached despite setbacks due to Covid-19. Emissions from burning coal can be made cleaner but not totally erased.
India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, expects coal to remain its dominant energy source for decades, even as large parts of the world shun the dirtiest fossil fuel, which is blamed for contributing to global warming and air pollution. The South Asian nation has defended its use of the fuel while also embracing large-scale renewable energy projects to transition to clean energy.
“We have to meet a target to become a $5-trillion economy, and for that, we have to exploit our coal reserves,” Shah said to the winning bidders of India’s first auction of coal blocks for commercial mining. “We should look at exploiting our coal reserves under the ground in the next thirty years to speed up economic growth. Looking at the rapid growth in alternative energy sources, the sooner we exploit these reserves, the better for us.”
The investment in clean coal from state-run companies will be 2.5 trillion rupees, Shah said, accounting for almost 63% of the total. He said a roadmap has been prepared and 100 million tons of coal gasification capacity is planned by 2030.
Coal helped produce about 64% of India’s electricity in the first half of the fiscal year ending March, although its share has been sliding with the growth in renewable energy.
“It is impossible to operate an industry or even grow crops without using some form of energy. And energy will continue to mean coal for several decades,” coal minister Pralhad Joshi said at the same event.
(By Rajesh Kumar Singh and Archana Chaudhary)