India can save ₹8,940 crore a year by shutting old coal plants: Study

India can potentially save ₹8,940 crore ($1.2 billion) a year by shutting down some old coal-burning power plants and allowing newer ones to run for longer hours, a study says.

The country should accelerate decommissioning of 30 gigawatts of inefficient coal-fired capacity, and set aside another 20 gigawatts of plants as reserve, an exercise that will lead to monetary savings as well reduce pollution, the study by New Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment and Water, or CEEW, said.

Closing down the old plants, which consume more coal than a newer counterpart to produce a unit of power, can help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, clean up the country’s air and reduce soil and water pollution. Shutting down the old plants will also improve capacity use of the thermal fleet, currently saddled by under-utilization.

“By clearing out the stock of inefficient assets, we create fresh breathing room and make a case for more investment in the sector — in renewables, energy storage, system upgrades, among others,” the study said. “Each passing year of delay increases the burden on us with a higher electricity bill and more air, water, and soil pollution to manage.”

The country needs to dispatch power on the basis of efficiency, instead of on plants’ variable generation cost, a system that prefers old coal stations that have access to cheap fuel because of their location close to mines.

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