The center aims to reduce the electricity production of at least 81 coal-fired power stations over 4 years

In an effort to replace expensive thermal generation with cheaper green power, the government plans to cut power from 81 coal-fired utilities over the next four years, the federal Department of Energy said in a statement. letter.

The government’s plan aims to maximize green power potential and reduce costs, the letter sent to senior state and federal energy officials said, but will not involve the shutdown of old and expensive power plants, according to a Reuters report. India has 173 coal-fired power stations.

In the letter dated May 26, the Ministry of Energy said that thermal power plants will in future operate down to the technical minimum to accommodate cheaper renewable energy when it becomes available.

The country faced a crippling energy crisis in April, the worst in more than six years, when a rapid increase in demand for electricity led to a run on coal, forcing the country to cancel plans to reduce zero imports of thermal coal.

An increase in peak electricity consumption at night when solar power is not available has made phasing out coal-fired generation a daunting challenge. The addition of alternative sources such as nuclear and hydropower has also been slow.

India is the second largest consumer, producer and importer of coal in the world, and this fuel accounts for nearly 75% of annual electricity production.

The world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is currently 37% below its end-2022 green energy target.

India’s current energy crisis could have been avoided had its goal of installing 175 GW of renewable energy been on track, think tank Climate Risk Horizons said in a report in May.

“Additional solar and wind generation … would have allowed power plants to keep their coal inventories down during evening peak periods,” Climate Risk Horizons said.

The Department of Energy’s plan to reduce coal generation when renewable sources are available could also ease the strain on logistics. India’s energy crisis has been compounded by a shortage of trains to transport coal.

India expects the plan to cut power generation by 58 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) from 81 utilities to save 34.7 million tonnes of coal and reduce carbon emissions by 60.2 million tons, says the letter.

Coal India will import for the first time in years

State-run Coal India will import fuel for utilities. It would be the first time since 2015 that Coal India had imported the fuel, underscoring efforts by state and federal authorities to source supplies to avoid an April repeat.

“Coal India would import coal for blending on a government-to-government (G2G) basis and supply … to thermal power plants of state producers and independent power producers (IPPs),” the Federal Ministry of Government said. Energy in the letter.

The Department of Energy has also asked states to suspend “ongoing” tenders.

“Tenders being processed by state producers and IPPs for the import of coal for blending may be suspended pending price discovery by Coal India via the G2G route, in order to source coal from less at possible tariffs,” the ministry said.

Coal inventories at power plants have fallen about 13% since April to the lowest pre-summer levels in years.

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