India Doubles Down on Coal as Heatwave Worsens Power Crisis

Environmental News from India: 

India is planning to reopen more than 100 coal mines previously considered financially unsustainable as a heatwave-driven power crisis forces the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter to double down on the fuel after months of low consumption.

State-run Coal India (COAL.NS), which accounts for 80% of domestic coal output, saw production fall for two straight years ended March 2021, mainly due to a lack of demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. India also pushed utilities to cut imports of coal used for power generation to zero during that period.

But recovery from the pandemic followed by an unrelenting heatwave boosting air conditioning use has revived demand, and the government is forcing utilities to step up imports and Coal India to ramp up production to address supply shortages.

On Friday, the coal ministry’s top bureaucrat said the world’s second-largest producer, importer, and consumer of coal after China expected to increase output by up to 100 million tonnes in the next three years by reopening closed mines.

“Earlier, we were hailed as bad boys because we were promoting fossil fuel, and now we are in the news that we are not supplying enough of it,” Coal Secretary Anil Kumar Jain told a conference aimed at attracting more private players into coal mining.

“This is a very courageous move by the ministry and Coal India to offer very quickly large supplies of coal.”

Months of declining fuel inventories at power plants culminated in the worst power crisis in more than six years in April, disrupting industrial activity and forcing India to accelerate coal mining.

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Source: Reuters

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