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  • 29 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Coal: Dominant energy source in India

Coal: Dominant energy source in India

Despite efforts to transition to renewable energy, coal will continue to be India's dominant energy source.

What is the country's current energy capacity?

  • According to Climate Action Tracker projections, fossil fuel accounts for more than half of the country's installed energy capacity and is expected to reach around 266 gigatonnes by 2029-2030.
  • Domestic coal demand is expected to rise from 678 million tonnes in 2021-2022 to 1,018.2 million tonnes in 2031-32.
  • This means that India's coal consumption will rise by 40%.

What is the Cause of Rising Coal Demand?

  • Coal is used in the production of iron and steel, and there are few technologies available to replace it immediately.
  • The Indian economy is expected to expand further between 2022 and 2024, with annual average GDP growth of 7.4%, fueled in part by coal.
  • Because of India's push for domestic coal mining via Coal India and the auction of coal blocks to private companies, coal usage in India is expected to rise as it does in other parts of the world, including China.
  • The central government has allowed private coal mining, claiming it as one of its most ambitious coal sector reforms.
  • The government expects it to increase coal production efficiency and competition, attract investments and best-in-class technology, and help create more jobs in the coal sector.

About coal

  • It is a type of fossil fuel found in sedimentary rocks and is commonly referred to as "Black Gold."
  • It is a common and widely available source of energy. It is used as a domestic fuel, as well as in industries such as iron and steel, steam engines, and electricity generation. Thermal power is the term used to describe coal-fired electricity.
  • China, the United States, Australia, Indonesia, and India are the world's top coal producers.

Coal Distribution in India:

  • Coal Fields of Gondwana (250 million years old):
  • Gondwana coal accounts for 98% of total reserves and 99% of coal production in India.
  • Gondwana coal is metallurgical grade as well as superior quality coal in India.
  • It can be found in the valleys of Damodar (Jharkhand-West Bengal), Mahanadi (Chhattisgarh-Odisha), Godavari (Maharashtra), and Narmada.
  • Tertiary Coal Fields (aged 15 to 60 million years):
  • The carbon content is extremely low, but it is high in moisture and sulphur.
  • Tertiary coalfields are mostly found in extra-peninsular areas.
  • Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, the Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala are all important areas.
  • Anthracite (80-95 percent carbon content, found in small quantities in J&K).
  • Bituminous (has a carbon content of 60 to 80% and is found in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh).
  • Lignite (high moisture content, 40 to 55% carbon content) is found in Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam), and Tamil Nadu.
  • Peat (which contains less than 40% carbon and is in the process of being converted from organic matter (wood) to coal).

Way Forward

  • Retraining the coal-dependent society is a critical step in establishing a post-coal economy.
  • Recognizing the need to train workers displaced by their profession is critical for employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
  • The federal transition programmes in the United States, such as solar training and education for professionals and the Partnerships for Opportunity, Workforce, and Economic Revitalization dislocated worker grant, can set a precedent for India to design and develop its own schemes.

Read Also: ILLegal Mining in Meghalaya

Source: Down To Earth

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