May 26, 2024

General Studies Paper -3

Context: Energy and climate ministers from the G7 group of industrialized nations have agreed to phase out by 2035 the use of coal power where the emissions have not been captured.


  • The non-governmental organization had called for the G7 to set an earlier 2030 phaseout date for power generation by coal, and a 2035 deadline for gas-fired supplies.
  • Together the G7 makes up around 38 percent of the global economy and was responsible for 21 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021.

Coal Sector in India

  • Coal Reserves: India has significant coal reserves, and it is one of the world’s largest coal producers.
    • The major coal fields in India are located in the eastern states of Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal, as well as in central states like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Coal Production: India is among the top 3 leading coal producers globally. The Coal India Limited (CIL) is the state-owned coal mining company and the largest government-owned-coal-producer in the world.
  • Coal Consumption: The power demand in India is surging. In 2022, the requirement grew about 8 – 9%.
    • Industrial and commercial activity are among the biggest consumers of energy in the country.
  • Import and Export: Despite being a significant coal producer, India has also been importing coal to meet the growing demand.
    • This is due to issues such as transportation challenges and the need for specific types of coal for certain industries.

Concerns in phasing Out of Coal Power Plants

  • Currently, out of the total energy produced in the country, only 22% is from renewable sources. Fossil fuels, mainly coal, still provide 75% of India’s power supply.
  • Dependency on Natural Factors: Energy sources like solar and wind are variable as they rely on natural factors like sunlight, wind and water availability.
    • To ensure a steady supply, India has to heavily invest in battery storage.
  • Concerns in Hydropower Projects: Numerous hydropower projects are under construction or in the planning stages in the Himalayan region.
  • But they have come under fire as the projects have caused ecological damage and raised concerns about the potential conflicts over water resources in the area.
  • Nuclear Energy: The country’s plans to generate energy with the help of nuclear power plants have not really taken off.
    • During 2021-22, the plants produced about 3.15% of the total electricity generated in India.
  • Infrastructure Development: The transition to renewable energy requires significant infrastructure development.
    • The speed and scale of this infrastructure development can be a challenge for a country as large and diverse as India.
  • Grid Integration: Integrating renewable energy into the existing power grid is a complex task.
    • The grid must be flexible and capable of handling fluctuations in supply.

Steps Taken by Government for Transition to Renewable Energy Sources

  • India aims to reach 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, about three times the current capacity of about 180 GW.
  • National Solar Mission (NSM): It was launched in 2010, it has set ambitious targets for solar capacity installation, including grid-connected and off-grid solar power projects.
  • Green Energy Corridors: The Green Energy Corridor project focuses on enhancing the transmission infrastructure to facilitate the integration of renewable energy into the national grid.
  • Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO): This requires power distribution companies and large electricity consumers to procure a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources, encouraging the demand for renewable energy.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM): It includes the installation of solar pumps, solarization of existing grid-connected agricultural pumps, and the establishment of solar power plants on barren or fallow land.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA): India played a key role in establishing the International Solar Alliance, a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries to address their energy needs through the promotion of solar energy.

Concluding Remark

  • The agreement marks a significant step in the direction indicated last year by the COP28 United Nations climate summit for a transition away from fossil fuels, of which coal is the most polluting.
  • It helps accelerate the shift of investments from coal to clean technology in particular in Japan and more broadly in the whole Asian coal economy, including China and India.
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