Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Karnataka are likely to follow the footsteps of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to disallow new coal-fired plants in the future, a study by Climate Trends, a Delhi-based climate communications organisation noted.
In these states, new coal-based plants would be redundant since all of their future energy demands could be cost-effectively met by renewable and flexible-based energy alone.
The report, released by Climate Trends, affirms its findings on the analysis of current economic indicators, the states’ installed power capacities, electricity generation and renewable energy (RE) potential, as well as the impacts of air pollution and water stress, that is aggravated by coal power.
“Our analysis confirms the beginning of the end for coal in India. The decision by Gujarat, the country’s most industrialized state, and Chhattisgarh, the largest coal-bearing state, to exit new coal power highlight the poor economics of the fossil technology which powered the world so far. At the same time, it’s an enormous vote of confidence for the reliability and competitiveness of renewable energy,” said Aarti Khosla, Director of Climate Trends.
Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu are states with the highest RE (renewable energy) potential in the country. Their installed RE capacities are either higher than coal power or are on a path to overtake it.
In Rajasthan, the total installed coal capacity stands at 11.6 Gw whereas renewable energy and hydropower combined have a rated capacity of 11.1 Gw. Karnataka has 63 per cent of its installed power generation capacity from non-fossil fuel sources while in Tamil Nadu, non-fossil based energy exceeds fossil fuel-driven power by 2.3 Gw.
Rajasthan with the highest renewable energy potential has the lowest discovered per unit price for solar energy (Rs 2.44 per unit or $ 0.034/unit). Similarly, Tamil Nadu has the highest installed capacity of wind energy, as well as the largest wind power farm at 1500MW. Karnataka, with a population of 65 million (about the same as the population of France, and twice that of Canada), met more than 50 per cent of its electricity demand from solar and wind energy projects for three consecutive days in July this year.
“Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu account for more than half of the country’s discom (electricity distribution companies) debt. Yet, Tamil Nadu has the highest new coal power pipeline in India. The Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan state governments cannot afford to hand out free electricity when their discoms are bleeding. The only way for them to repay their dues is to buy cheap electricity, which must be renewables-based” said Khosla.
According to the National Electricity Plan (NEP) released in 2018 by Central Electricity Authority (CEA), based on existing commitments made for capacity addition from all sources till 2022, India needs no new coal power capacity until at least 2027. This is even with the highest estimated growth in power demand. The additional capacity of 46.4 GW needed beyond the current pipeline between 2022-27 is preferred by the NEP to come from flexible generation sources, instead of coal.