China, the world’s worst polluter, was dramatically increasing its coal consumption without much criticism from the climate change movement. Indian government sources told Reuters on Wednesday that India is now asking its states to increase coal imports over the next three years to meet rising energy demands and build up an emergency stockpile.
“The decision to increase imports underscores the severity of India’s fuel crisis, as coal inventories are at their lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years and demand for electricity is expected to increase at the fastest pace in nearly four years. decades,” he said. Reuters reported on Wednesday.
India was already second only to China in coal imports, and not far behind. India is not planning to reduce its coal consumption in the near future – the three-year increase in imports is intended to balance the energy sector until private domestic mining companies can increase production.
Reuters quoted unnamed Indian officials as saying plans were underway to bolster India’s rail network to transport all that coal. State officials have been urged to buy more rail cars, as well as sign long-term import contracts that would put a damper on prices that are already high thanks to the loss of Russian supply but are likely to rise sharply.
One of the state officials who spoke to Reuters complained that India’s national government had spent the last few months bragging that reduce coal imports, but “now they want us to import as much as we can and they’re saying there are supply restrictions.”
“This is a very confusing and confusing sign,” he sighed.
At the COP26 climate summit in November, India made a last-minute change to its pledge to “phased out” coal power, saying it would “phasing out” coal consumption. The phasing out of coal is simply impossible given India’s energy needs, as The Economist explained:
India’s population, currently 1.4 billion, is growing and electricity use is increasing. India needs to add capacity equivalent to all EU production over the next 20 years, according to the International Energy Agency. Today 70% of the country’s electricity comes from coal. The government has promised to increase renewable energy capacity to 500 gigawatts by 2030, more than doubling current production. But that would still only represent half of the anticipated need.
The creaky electrical grid also needs an upgrade. Distribution companies, with collective debt of $80 billion, are ill-equipped to make the investments needed to reliably store and transmit renewable energy. This makes solar power, a seemingly obvious solution for India, more difficult to implement at scale.
Demand for coal is increasing so rapidly that India’s state-owned mining monster, Coal India, can’t keep upwhich is why private miners were encouraged to take the slack.
The confusion of the ministers of state mentioned above is understandable because the central government desperately wanted to reduce its dependence on expensive coal imports, but changed its mind and began ordering states to buy more foreign coal because there was no other way to meet demand.