India has significantly improved its position as one of the leading countries in the field of renewable energy. However, the contribution of coal-based power generation is not expected to go down substantially in the next few decades. Comment on the statement in the light of increasing demand for power in India.

India has diversified its energy basket with increased focus on renewable energy. However, coal-based power generation is still the mainstay of the power sector in India.

Reasons for prevalence:

  • Increased power demand.
  • High demand for power from the industrial sector.
  • Rising urbanisation – more power demand.
  • Focus on make in India policy – large scale industries require uninterrupted power.
  • Railways modernisation – electrification of old tracks leading to higher demand for power.
  • The IT sector requires uninterrupted power supply.
  • Energy intensive capital goods industries (iron and steel, heavy machinery).
  • Heating up of climate – increased usage of air conditioners.
  • Food processing industry is also a major consumer (production, storage of perishable goods in cold storage).

Significance of coal-based power vis-a-vis renewable energy:

  • Low generation capacity compared to thermal power plants.
  • High cost of adoption of renewable energy.
  • Higher calorific value of coal – more energy per unit raw material.
  • Climatic conditions are not always feasible for renewable energy.
  • High amount of power needed, which renewable alone cannot generate.
  • Concerns about ecological effects of mega-hydel power plants.

While impetus on renewable energy exists, its penetration remains low. This coupled with high energy requirements makes coal-based power indispensable. Need of the hour is to develop efficient and clean generation technology from coal.

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