The Indian Energy Ministry has this week announced plans to cancel four proposed coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 16 GW as it looks to reduce its overall carbon footprint from energy.
The plans previously called for four ultra-mega coal-fired power plants (UMPP) across Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha, but these are now to be cancelled due to lack of interest from the host states.
India is increasingly looking to renewable energy, as well as dampening demand growth by accelerating energy and grid efficiency programs. With the utilization rates of the average coal fired power plant at six year lows of 58 per cent in 2015/16 (down from 75 per cent in 2010), another government goal is to better utilize the existing thermal capacity.
For 2016/17, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set the highest ever capacity addition target for the clean power sector, that being up to 16,660 MW according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
Of this, the solar installs target is set at 12 GW, wind at 4 GW, biomass power at 400 MW, small scale hydro-electricity at 250 MW and waste-to-power at 10 MW.
Plans for three new UMPP remain that, if awarded, would add a combined 12 GW of new coal fired power generation capacity across Cheyyur in Tamil Nadu, Behabahal in Odisha & Banka in Bihar by 2020.
While the awarding of these projects has already also been repeatedly delayed, these three UMPPs would facilitate the proposed closure of old coal-fired power plants that are now beyond their use by date.
In April 2016 the Power Ministry announced it had scaled back its projected thermal power capacity growth forecast by 50 GW, reducing the target from 289 GW to 239 GW by 2022.
This week, S&P Global Platts forecast that India’s reliance on coal fired power generation would drop from an estimated 69 per cent share in 2020 to just 60 per cent  by 2030, relative to a peak of 75 per cent in 2015.
In his address to the U.S. Congress this week, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi clearly articulated that in the focus on driving Indian economic growth at 7.6 per cent pa, this must “be achieved with a light carbon foot print, with greater emphasis on renewables.”