India’s Ambitious Plans for Coal

I have written before that India has lots of coal–and they do. I have also written that they have had a heckuva time getting it out of the ground–and they have. Corruption, lethargy, too much regulation… all have conspired to keep much of the population in India as energy starved as they are malnourished.

As noted on Climatewire, however, “India is poised to contend with China as the globe’s top consumer of coal, with 455 power plants preparing to come online, a prominent environmental research group has concluded. The coal plants in India’s pipeline — almost 100 more than China is preparing to build — would deliver 519,396 megawatts of installed generating capacity. That is only slightly less than pending new capacity in China, which remains the undisputed king of coal consumption.” The story is based on unreleased data from the World Resource Institute–I hope the data escapes soon.

Choosing the lesser of two evils is part of modern life. The lesser of two evils is to burn coal, dirty as it may be, to bring energy to India. I hope that solar and wind power can make this period short and that hydroelectric power plays a larger role as well.

According to the WRI analysis, more than 34,000 MW of coal capacity is slated to come online in Vietnam, 30,000 MW in Turkey, and 22,000 MW in South Africa.

For these countries, albeit for different reasons, there is the opportunity for at least partial substitution in fuel sources–hydro for Vietnam, solar and wind in Turkey and all of the above for South Africa.

But for India, as with China, we’re going to have to bite the bullet and live with a generation of massive increases in the use of coal. It won’t be pretty. It will exacerbate not just conventional pollution but anthropogenic climate change (although we can hope that the particles emitted will counter the effects of some of the CO2).

But it just isn’t going to be pretty.


11 responses to “India’s Ambitious Plans for Coal

  1. Selective blindspot mathematical analysis, corruption lethargy, too much regulation do indeed keep the Indians more malnourished and starved of energy, they do it by reducing efficiency and increasing costs, just like in fact using solar and wind.

    What you should be championing for is any cheaper form of energy production whatever it is that is also cleaner. Just pushing for more expensive wind and solar is just perpetuating malnourishment in both food and energy.

  2. I have my doubts about realization of Indian plans. For the reasons Franksw mentioned above and the lack of coordination. Public opinion….in 2011 there were people on hunger strike opposing nuclear power and people on hunger strike to get electricity in Bihar.

    One thing is clear, though. Without electricity, India will remain backward and undeveloped. In Bihar, with 103 million people, average annual electricity consumption is a bit over 100 kWh per capita. We here in Finland consume over 16 000 kWhs…. something must be done in India.

  3. India’s 12th 5 year plan here.

    Click to access wg_power1904.pdf

    Only 63,000 MW’s of coal is slated to come online. I don’t know where WRI is getting their numbers. I suspect they are taking number of plants and multiplying by 1,000 MW(standard chinese size). India is building a bunch of smaller plants. I would also note that India fell short of it’s targets in the 11th 5 year plan.

    Since India only had 93,000 MW of coal fired plant at the end of 2011 I don’t see any way they get to 500,000 MW of coal fire plant with the addition of 63,000 MW in the 12th 5 year plan which runs from 2012 – 2017.

    Vietnamese power plan here. all their numbers are off. A total of 36,000 MW by 2020 dependent on securing an economic supply of imported coal.

    As i discussed elsewhere…coal isn’t very economic if one has to import the coal.

  4. South African Integrated Resource Plan –

    Click to access IRP_2010.pdf

    10GW of coal fired construction already committed to and an additional 6 GW out to 2030 with plans for 9 GW of nuclear, 8 GW of solar PV, 8 GW of wind and 1 GW of concentrating Solar.

    Sorry…I don’t find WRI to be a credible source of information.

  5. Turkish Power Plans out to 2018.

    Click to access CAPACITY%20PROJECTION%202009-2018.pdf

    From Table 21
    2,800 MW of coal fired capacity additions.(Table 21).

  6. Harry, do you have a site where all of these power plans are referenced together? Or do you go and find them all yourself?

    • I find all the power plans myself.
      Grid Planning is generally the ‘long leg’ of power expansion. So generally the grid operator will have projections for 5 to 10 years out that will end up being fairly close to reality.


    “KOLKATA–Coal India Ltd. is unlikely to be able to increase coal deliveries much for at least three years due to bureaucratic bottlenecks and a lack of transport infrastructure, the head of India’s state-run monopoly coal miner said…….Coal India started talks for building and expanding railway infrastructure in its mining regions with state-owned India Railways in the 1990s, but little has happened, he said..”

  8. It’s easy to be a critic than to be a solution, workable solution provider. It is sure, no sane human would like to endanger co humans (which incidentally include his / her family friends peers well wishers loved ones etc etc).

    Installation / running / maintenance / transmission / distribution / closure costs / energy source availability / social responsibility are all the factors of generation capacity. If a source which would suffice continued supply (wind and solar power is not as continual as one might talk about. Not to talk about hydro resource in high energy source demand growth in Asian region, since even for primitive uses, scarcity is the order of the day.

    Though every body should think about Social Responsibility at the same time, we shall also think about keeping the society satisfied with their minimal need for running their life at a cost, they could afford.

    We may desire for anything, since no body can restrict our thoughts. But the question is do we deserve considering various factors associated with what ever we desire?

    As we talk so much about dirty energy source, let us also talk about positive thinking, belief in others good matured thinking and act.

    No well educated brain, government entrusted with a big society will work against society, be it close to them or at a far away time zone

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