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Informative Article | Power Engineering | India | Volume 12 Issue 12, December 2023
Blue Coal Power Plants for India's Net Zero Targets - A Solution for Affordable, Reliable and Sustainable Power
Ujjwal Kanti Bhattacharya | Pankaj Kumar Gupta  | Suneet Mehta
Abstract: In India, fossil fuels have been providing most of the energy requirements of all the sectors till now. With the COP26 commitments, there is a wide assumption that there must be an end to the use of coal to achieve the Net Zero Emission (NZE) targets. Some countries have already committed to phase out coal-based power plants for achieving the net zero commitments. These are mostly developed countries with slow growing economies and potential of relatively cheaper renewable energy. However, in comparison, India is a fast-growing economy and has a huge dependence on coal for energy security. Coal remains the dominant source of energy in India as it is relatively cheap and readily available. The greatest challenge for India in such a scenario is to meet the country?s demand in an affordable, reliable and environmentally acceptable way. The demand for electricity is set to increase manifold in India as a result of significant GDP growth expected over the next two decades. The paper discusses the challenges for achieving the NZE targets in Indian scenario and suggests a future roadmap for coal-based plants in India for achieving these targets while ensuring reliable, sustainable and affordable power for all. Power sector, which presently contributes around 35% of total CO2 emissions in India, is going to play a key role in achieving India?s COP26 commitments. India is a coal rich country and generation from coal-based power plants dominates the total electricity generation in the country. Although, the share of thermal power in generation mix shall reduce by 2030, the generation from coal-based sources is expected to still dominate due to multiple factors such as growing energy demand, challenges associated with installation of non-fossil-based sources, intermittency of renewables, non-availability of commercially viable storage solutions, grid stability issues, availability of large coal reserves in India etc. Therefore, decarbonizing coal-based power plants is equally essential for achieving the NZE targets. There is a lot India can do to approach NZE, starting with the deployment of low emission coal technologies, high efficiency and low emission (HELE) ultra-super critical technology, co-firing low emission fuels, use of carbon capture & utilization (CCU) technologies, augmentation of Small Module Reactors (advanced nuclear reactors) at CRH steam interface etc. CCU is a necessary part of India?s transition to NZE as fossil fuels are expected to remain the major source of baseline power generation and will continue their presence in the industrial processes that are hard to abate such as steel and cement industry as well as play an important role in the new industries such as Hydrogen, Ammonia, Dimethyl Ether (DME) etc. Energy transition and decarbonisation is the need of hour to meet the global climate targets. However, for a country like India, where per capita energy consumption is a fraction of the global average, ensuring energy security, sustainability and affordability is an equally important aspect. Meeting the energy needs of underserved populations, improving safe and sustainable energy access for the poorest and most vulnerable groups is the first and foremost consideration in India. Therefore, a comprehensive road map is required for achieving country?s Net Zero commitments in a graded manner following a transition path.
Keywords: Thermal Power, Net Zero Emission, Blue Coal, Energy Transition, Future of Coal, Carbon Capture, Biomass cofiring, Ultra-super critical technology, methanol firing, High Efficiency and Low Emission (HELE)
Edition: Volume 12 Issue 12, December 2023,
Pages: 1179 - 1187