India has set its sights on ambitious but admirable targets for renewable energy (RE). It is possible that the global crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic might necessitate a revision in those targets, although it is difficult to estimate the long-term impact.
India with its large energy needs will continue to depend on coal for power generation in the short-to-medium term. By the year 2030, the country is expected to achieve a total installed power generation capacity of 830 GW, half of which will be coal-based. Coal-fired power plants, however, are big contributors to PM (particulate matter), mercury, SO2 (sulphur dioxide), and NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions. It is important therefore, that they clean up their act.
Countries around the world are trying to reduce their NOx emissions. The European Union has, over the past 30 years, periodically tightened the NOx emission regulations for thermal power plants. India, though, in July 2020, took a step towards relaxing the NOx emission limit for coal-fired power stations commissioned between December 2003 and 2016 from 300 mg/Nm3 to 450 mg/Nm3, claiming that meeting the 300 mg/Nm3 limit was not feasible with available technologies.
This, however, is no reason for coal-fired plants to not try and make their operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. Our country should be prepared that emission guidelines will become stricter in future as happened in Europe and accept the importance of cleaner air in our lives.