Business Standard

National Electricity Plan: Coal to fall behind renewables by 2032

Power generation capacity likely to touch 900 Gw

The coal entrepreneurs seem to have cottoned on to the fact that there is no doomsday arriving for the sector anytime soon

The average plant load factor of the total installed coal capacity of 235.1 Gw was found to be about 58.4 per cent in 2026-27 and about 58.7 per cent in 2031-32

Shreya Jai New Delhi

Listen to This Article

India’s power generation capacity is expected to touch 900 gigawatt (Gw) by the end of this decade, with major capacity addition coming from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and large hydro, said the latest National Electricity Plan (NEP) by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). 

The CEA, the technical arm of the power ministry, prepares NEP every five years forecasting the country’s power generation, transmission, and demand trajectory for the coming decade. In the latest NEP, the CEA has observed a significant slowdown in the coal capacity addition in the country. It is expecting the renewable energy capacity to double from the current levels.

Based on generation planning studies carried out for the period of 2027-32, the likely installed capacity for 2031-32 is calculated to be 900.4 Gw. Conventional power capacity comprising coal, gas, and nuclear would total up to 304 Gw while renewable energy capacity (including large hydro) is expected to touch 596 Gw. Additionally, the CEA expects several new energy sources, such as small hydro (5.4 Gw), biomass (15 GW), pump storage power (26 Gw), and battery energy storage (47 Gw) to also come up by 2032.

“The likely share of coal capacity reduces to 39 per cent of the total installed capacity in 2026-27 from 52.8 per cent in 2021-22. The share of non-fossil based capacity is likely to increase to 57.4 per cent by the end of 2026-27 and may likely to further increase to 68.4 per cent by the end of 2031-32 from around 40 per cent currently,” said the NEP.

India, under its nationally determined contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has committed to increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 50 per cent by 2030 and be a net-zero economy by 2070. 

The NEP has noted that growing environmental concerns and global thrust on adoption of clean generation technologies are going to have an impact on the share of coal-based installed capacity in the foreseeable future. “Though the share of coal-based generation may continue to be high, operation of coal-based plants in a more flexible mode, unlike as base load stations earlier, needs to be emphasised in the wake of huge intermittency and variability of renewable-based generation,” it said. 

The NEP has envisaged the generation metrics under four scenarios and in all of them, it is indicated that coal-based power generation cannot be halted. “Based on scenario analysis, it is seen that apart from under construction coal-based capacity of 26.9 Gw, the additional coal-based capacity required till 2031-32 may vary from 19.1 Gw to around 27.1 Gw across various scenarios,” the NEP said.

The average plant load factor of the total installed coal capacity of 235.1 Gw was found to be about 58.4 per cent in 2026-27 and about 58.7 per cent in 2031-32. The domestic coal requirement has been estimated to be 866.4 million tonnes (mt) for 2026-27 and 1025.8 mt for 2031-32 and an estimated requirement of 28.9 mt of coal imports for the plants designed to run on imported coal.


Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: May 31 2023 | 8:32 PM IST

Explore News