• Draft Indian electricity policy sees coal as “cheapest power”

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

A draft National Electricity Policy for 2021 prepared by the Indian government and seen by Reuters has included reference to building additional coal-fired power generation capacity as it provides “the cheapest power”. Coal currently contributes just under 75% of India’s annual power output, but the proportion has been falling in recent years as more renewable energy capacity is added, and there is domestic as well as international pressure to move away from coal, in addition to arguments that renewables provide cheaper electricity. The statement catching Reuters’ eye in the draft was that while “India is committed to add more capacity through non-fossil sources of generation, coal-based generation capacity may still be required to be added in the country as it continues to be the cheapest source of generation.” Qualifying this is that the country should only build ultra-supercritical plants or employ technology that offers equivalent efficiency, and also considerations as to the pace of change to the power grid being a potential source of instability. It is not clear if “cheapest” includes consideration of the costs of pollution, or, on the other hand, the value of non-intermittency. A panel of various power sector experts and officials is to review the draft and recommend revisions prior to the plan being submitted for cabinet approval.