Transition from coal to solar power in India draws speeds from pandemic

Transition from coal to solar power in India draws speeds from pandemic

May 14, 2020 0 By Erin Kilgore
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The lockdown due to the coronavirus has helped to propel forward the shift toward renewable energy sources.

The move away from coal and toward solar power in India appears to be speeding up due to the lockdowns in place from the pandemic.

Experts see renewable energy as resilient during the crisis, but coal is approaching its peak.

More specifically, the travel restrictions in place to control the spread of COVID-19 are propelling forward the move from coal to solar power in India. The country is currently the second largest coal consumer on the planet. That said, since March 25, when it locked down, its energy demand for the fossil fuel has dropped by almost 30 percent. The coal generators are facing the largest setbacks from this trend.

International Energy Agency projections from 2018 forecasted that the country’s coal demand would have more than doubled by 2040. This meant that the Indian coal consumption would present a substantial challenge to international strategies to combat climate change. That said, if an effective policy framework were to be established, Indian coal generation could reach a peak considerably earlier.

The sooner the transition takes place from coal to solar in India, the smaller the country’s carbon footprint.

“I think we will see the peak in coal use for power generation this decade,” said Tim Buckley, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA)’s director of energy finance studies for the Australia and South Asia region. “There is potential for India to really surprise the global community and contribute to the decarbonisation story while doing it in a very cost-effective way.”

Before the pandemic lockdown, there had already been political support for renewable energy. This grew stronger due to the speed at which costs have been falling since the travel restrictions. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a doubling of the country’s renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030 at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019. Today’s installed capacity is about 87 GW.

Solar power in India - solar panels in fieldThe solar power in India is expected to provide the bulk of the renewable energy for meeting the country’s targets by 2030.