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India To Grow Thermal Coal Power Fleet As Demand Calls

India will increase the size of its thermal power fleet, the country’s power minister said, to meet an increased demand for power.

India said it would add another 88GW of new power capacity by early 2032—63% more than India’s plan that it published just seven months ago. And most of that will be coal-fired power, with gas-fired electricity generation unavailable to India due to the high cost of natural gas.

India will not only leave out natural gas power in its expansion plans, but it doesn’t even use the gas-fired electricity plants it has now—at least not to their total capacity. According to Bloomberg, citing ministry data, India’s 25GW of gas-based electricity plants operated at 15% capacity so far this fiscal year.

Clean energy is also not on the table for India, with prices too high and costly storage capacity sorely lacking.

Meanwhile, India’s electricity demand continues to rise above expectations, with maximum demand exceeding the power ministry’s projections of 229GW multiple times so far this year and forecasts of 366GW for fiscal 2032.

With gas not a viable option due to cost, “India has no other alternative than to expand coal-based power for now,” a professor of energy and climate at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore told Bloomberg. “You need storage to supply round-the-clock clean energy and we neither have the scale nor the desired costs for storage technology to meet our needs.”

India—the world’s fastest-growing economy—has added 5GW of coal-based electricity generation capacity each year over the past five years.

Now, in order to meet its desired coal-fired power expansion, India must remove the roadblocks to existing coal projects, such as land acquisition delays.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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