India will need thermal power capacity addition to meet power demand: Top official

Coal demand is poised to rise to 1.5 BT by 2030; India’s thermal power sector will need capacity addition to meet increasing power demand, a top official said

New Delhi: While highlighting that the coal demand is poised to rise to 1.5 Billion Tonne (BT) by 2030, led by a rise in power generation, a top official said that India's thermal power sector will need capacity addition to meet the increasing power demand. The statement marks a shift in India's stance on thermal power capacity addition as it had earlier said that no new thermal power capacities will be added to India's energy installed capacity.

Speaking at the National Coal Conclave & Exhibition on Monday, Additional Coal Secretary Vinod Kumar Tiwari said that despite lofty ambitions set out by the global community for renewable energy sources, there has been no let-up in coal-based power generation. He said that major nations that were weaning their economy away from coal have returned to the fossil fuel in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"There was an expectation that renewable energy will eat up the share of thermal power. However, that hasn't happened. In India, renewable energy contributes to just 12 percent of the total energy generation. Therefore, thermal power sector will need capacity addition to meet the increasing power demand," said Tiwari.

India's thermal power capacity addition plan

The government had earlier said that it does not intend to add thermal power capacity to India's total installed capacity and will continue to operate existing thermal power plants at a higher Plant Load Factor (PLF), in combination with renewable energy, to meet India's security needs. However, India's power sector has witnessed an unprecedented rise in demand over the last two years and most of this demand has been met through thermal power. In the absence of large-scale battery energy storage facilities, renewable energy's share in India's total energy mix continues to be low at around 12 percent.

Coal required to keep the cost of RE down: TANGEDCO CMD

Speaking during a panel discussion on fuel self-sufficiency in power sector, TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited) CMD Rajesh Lakhoni said that coal will be required to keep the cost of renewable energy down until storage facilities can be deployed on large scale. "Coal is required to keep the cost of RE down to balance out the intermittency of renewables. Boilers will have to be redesigned to allow thermal power plants to operate intermittently. And the technology will have to be developed indigenously since it is not available anywhere in the world," said Lakhoni while commenting on the role coal will play in addressing the intermittency issues with RE in the future.

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