To get to its ambitious climate targets, India not only needs to do more renewables – and by the term ‘renewables’ we mean all clean generation technologies including battery storage, green hydrogen, smart grids and energy efficiency – but also less fossils. Further, India needs to drive electrification of the transport sector to reduce its excessive reliance on expensive imported oil.
In the context of the electricity sector, given that carbon emissions happen due to coal power generation, the focus needs to be on reducing coal power generation and not coal power capacity – a point that may be missed in many discussions, including in our previous work. Power plant capacity does not necessarily result in actual generation of power – that is, a coal plant needs to be run to generate power.
So, how to do less coal power generation? The answer may be different for new build coal plants versus existing coal plants.
In terms of new coal power capacity, to ensure that we are not tempted to use this new capacity – in other words, it is not given political economy – which could eventually result in more coal power generation, we should simply not build new coal power plants.