Quantcast

World's Largest Coal Miner Says It's a 'Matter of Time' for Renewables to Replace Coal

Jharia coal mine. Wikimedia Commons

Even the world's largest coal miner thinks the rise of renewable energy and storage technology will pose a "significant threat" to the coal sector.

Coal India, the state-owned mining company that produces 80 percent of the country's coal, has released a new report, "Coal Vision 2030," that outlines what the industry might look like in 2030.


It warns stakeholders that in the case of Indian coal, "trends portent that in the long run the demand is likely to decrease substantially."

"With the increasing threat of climate change impacting humanity (irrespective of the U.S. position) and the global funding focus on renewables, it is a matter of time when alternate clean energy would displace coal," the report states.

Coal India's analysis lists a number of global and domestic events that have intensified doubts on the future of its main product, including:

  • Developments in solar PV and energy storage technologies
  • COP21 commitments by India
  • Apparent shrinkage in global coal consumption
  • Apparent downward revision of the economic growth projections of India
  • Response to recent tranches of coal block auctions
  • Non-performing assets (NPA) crises, especially in the iron and steel, and power sectors, two major consumers of coal and important sectors linked to economic growth
  • Changes in various policies pertaining to the domestic energy sector

While coal remains India's main source of fuel, the report notes, "standing in the midst of a change, it is very difficult for anyone to imagine its scale and often most people remain in a state of denial until the change is upon them."

Coal Vision 2030

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to get 40 percent of India's electricity from non-fossil sources (which includes renewables, nuclear and large hydropower) by 2030. The Indian government aims to triple its renewable energy capacity to reach 175 gigawatts by 2022. India's Central Electricity Authority will also halt building new coal plants in 2022.

However, the Coal Vision 2030 report suggests that India's future will remain tied to coal. Interestingly, even though the report says renewables and storage will likely emerge as "key substitutes" to coal, Coal India still expects demand for the fuel to roughly double to 1,300-1,900 million tonnes in 2030.

"The messages are extremely contradictory," Swati D'Souza, energy policy expert at India's energy think-tank, Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), told Climate Home News. "The [coal demand] numbers are very high given current trends on solar and wind penetration in the power sector … The document does not really give clarity on how they arrived at these numbers."

Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm, which tracks existing and proposed coal plants worldwide, added that 1,900 million tonnes is "an absurd figure for coal demand in 2030."

"Finance has completely dried up for privately sponsored coal plants; the only ones moving forward at this point are government-owned," Nace continued. "Without significant growth in coal power capacity there will not be the doubling or tripling of coal demand that this report talks about."

Coal India did not respond to Climate Home News' questions about the report's projections.

Sponsored
by [D.Jiang] / Moment / Getty Images

By Alena Kharlamenko

Tofu is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Read More Show Less
KarinaKnyspel / iStock / Getty Images

2018 saw a number of studies pointing to the outsized climate impact of meat consumption. Beef has long been singled out as particularly unsustainable: Cows both release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere because of their digestive processes and require a lot of land area to raise. But for those unwilling to give up the taste and texture of a steak or burger, could lab-grown meat be a climate-friendly alternative? In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Oxford Martin School set out to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Three scissor-tailed flycatcher fledglings in a mesquite tree in Texas. Texas Eagle / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Gary Paul Nabhan

President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation's southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the U.S., becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

Read More Show Less
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

Read More Show Less
This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. DOMA SHERPA / AFP / Getty Images

China has closed its Everest base camp to tourists because of a buildup of trash on the world's tallest mountain.

Read More Show Less