“Only a matter of time” until renewables replace coal, says…Coal India

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Coal India, the world’s largest coal producing company, has admitted that renewables could soon become the dominant energy supplier in the country.

In its recent Coal Vision 2030 policy document, the company sets out the main challenges to the coal industry over the next decade. It cites the development of solar PV and energy storage as key changes in the market along with a continued slump in global coal consumption.

What’s more, it states India’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement to curb carbon emissions and the rapid growth in renewables are threatening to topple the sector. However, it still sees strong coal demand within India as the country’s economy grows.

The report states that “with the increasing threat of climate change impacting humanity…and the global funding focus on renewables, it is a matter of time when alternate clean energy would displace coal”.

The document outlines what the coal industry might look like in 2030 and how it can respond to new forces in the market. It points out that renewable energy and storage are likely to emerge as “key substitutes” to fossil fuels in the coming years, citing strong current growth and government targets.

The Indian Government aims to triple the amount of renewable energy capacity over the next four years alone, totalling a huge 175 gigawatts (GW). Solar has also grown by 200 percent in two years, adding 8GW with much more to come.

Advancements in energy efficiency and electric vehicles (EVs) are also predicted to change India’s energy landscape into the 2020s. The report notes that new government initiatives targeting commercial buildings and households are starting to effect energy demand, reducing the ‘electricity intensity’ of GDP from 1.8 to 1.2. And while current sales of EVs in the country remain at a low base, the state is pushing for faster adoption of this technology; it hopes that 16 million EVs are on the roads by 2020.

The document concluded on a lamentable tone: “standing in the midst of a change, it is very difficult for anyone to imagine its scale and often most people remain in a state of denial until the change is upon them”.

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