ENVIRONMENT

By shutting down old coal plants, India can clean up its air – and save Rs 53,000 crore

How can India clean up its environment, get rid of air pollutants and, at the same time, pull its cash-strapped power distribution sector out of colossal debt? A new study suggests that retiring old coal power plants could be an effective strategy to achieve all these aims.

If 54 coal plants that are 20 years or older, located across 11 states, could be shut down over the next two years, it would yield savings of up to Rs 53,000 crore ($7.2 billion) over five years for these states’ electricity distribution companies, as per a new analysis by Climate Risk Horizon, a non-profit that analyses the risks to the Indian economy from climate change. This could make up for over 50% of the dues of the discoms.

These savings will come from two streams – avoiding the installation cost of expensive pollution control technology that has to be in place by 2022 to meet the government-mandated 2015 air quality standards and using cheaper options to replace the costly electricity bought from the old plants under long-term purchase agreements

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