India plans to increase its coal-fired fleet by 2030 as energy demand grows


New Delhi: India plans to add about a quarter more coal-fired power plants to its fleet by the end of the decade as it continues to rely on coal to meet growing demand until the cost of energy storage falls.

Power Minister Raj Kumar Singh said in an interview in New Delhi this week that the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases will install about 56 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity unless electricity storage costs are significantly reduced. According to him, India is also preparing significant investments in renewable energy, but it must prioritize reliable electricity supply to promote economic growth.

The strategy emphasizes how countries’ energy transition plans need to balance climate goals and concerns about security of energy supply. After the decrease in Russian gas supplies caused by the occupation of Ukraine, coal is experiencing a renaissance in Europe. India is delaying the shutdown of aging coal-fired power plants and the expansion of mining production due to the country’s current summer electricity consumption spike following record high temperatures.

“My main point is that I will not compromise on my growth,” Singh said, adding that India will not hesitate to import coal to cover shortfalls in domestic supply. “The power must be available.”

As the nation strives to become net zero by 2070, Singh said his ministry is also working towards the goal of 500 gigawatts of clean electricity capacity by 2030 set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. According to him, India’s overall goal is to increase its total generation capacity from all sources to 820 gigawatts by 2030.

India would require access to cheaper energy storage options to turn renewables into 24/7 clean electricity, Singh said, adding that his ministry would also seek more investment in such projects.

He criticized developed countries for not investing enough in carbon reduction strategies and storage technologies, and expressed concern about China’s control of most of the world’s lithium supply.

“It worries us,” Singh said, commenting on China’s dominance of the critical battery metal. “But the silver lining is that other promising technologies have emerged, especially for grid-scale storage. If that happens, the need for fossil fuels will disappear faster.”

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