If all of India’s 370 planned coal-fired power plants are built in the coming decades, the CO2 emissions from those additional facilities would almost single-handedly scuttle efforts to hold global temperature increases to 1.5–degrees C below pre-industrial levels, according to a new study.
The study, published in the American Geophysical Union journal, Earth’s Future, said that India now generates 63 percent of its electricity using coal, with coal-fired generating capacity more than tripling since 2007. The 370 planned coal-burning power plants would increase India’s coal-generating capacity by an additional 123 percent, the paper said.
But the paper also said it is highly unlikely that all of the proposed coal-fired power plants will be built, in part because it would lead to an over-capacity in coal-powered electricity generation, but also because the country is rapidly rolling out wind and solar energy at a cost competitive with coal. Roughly 28 percent of India’s electricity now comes from low-carbon sources, including nuclear power, and India has pledged to increase that to 40 percent by 2030.
Christine Shearer of the non-profit group, CoalSwarm, said the large number of proposed coal-fired power plants in India is “a vestige of earlier economic and political conditions” that pushed for a rapid increase in electricity-generating capacity. Now, she said, “a continuation of past trends [is] bumping up against a new reality, as technologies like solar and wind are becoming cheaper and more competitive.”