Future of Coal - an Indian perspective by Sri Pramod Agarwal, CMD, Coal India

Location and Date: 
Monday, 10 October, 2022, 03:30 PM, Seminar Room, Second Floor, DESE Building
Future of Coal – an Indian Perspective
1.     Overview
The growth in global energy consumption for the next decade is estimated to be primarily driven by the Non-OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Geographically, Asia is projected to lead the growth by reaching 1.5 times the current consumption levels by 2040, with China and India playing a crucial role in driving the global primary energy consumption. The energy consumption for industrial usage is expected to lead, followed by transportation, residential and others.
In terms of overall energy consumption, the United States and China dwarf all other countries, with China using the most electricity and the U.S. leading in terms of oil consumption. Currently, India is the 2nd largest producer as well as the consumer of coal globally, after China. However, India has a much lower per capita energy consumption when compared with leading economies of the world such as the US and other OECD countries. The power generation in India, closely linked to the demand, is expected to rise sharply from its current level of 1,484 BU to around 2,000 BU by FY2030 and 3,005 BU by 2040. With coal as the predominant source for power generation in India, the coal sector is poised to play an important role in the scenario. The coal sector in recent times has witnessed transformative measures such as encouragement of commercial coal mining & reduction of restrictions on sale/utilization of coal by captive players, enactment of Coal Mine Special Provision Act among others which have set the roadmap for the coal sector to proliferate in the coming times.
2.     Perspective on Future Coal Demand & Supply in India
A multitude of disruptive factors have been identified which are anticipated to shape the coal industry. The key themes revolving around these factors can be classified as power demand, the push for renewables, growth of the non-regulated coal consuming sector, global supply of coal, growth of domestic production centers and the technology & digital edge.
The high correlation of electricity demand with the growth of the GDP can be considered as an indicator of the growth prospect of the sector. Coupled with challenges in round-the-clock supply and prohibitively high costs of energy storage for renewable, grid-level adoption is yet to anchor itself as a mainstay in the Indian energy mix and therefore induce reliance of coal for coming decades. Another proponent in coal-based power generation is the adoption of more efficient technology. The progress of technology from subcritical to ultra-supercritical and advanced ultra-supercritical power generation along with the possibilities of carbon capture and storage are set to improve the efficiency and reduce the emissions in coal-based power generation. Currently, many major thermal power units have adopted ultra-super critical technology in India.
Another area which is poised to transform the coal mining landscape is the large-scale adoption of technology. The increased availability of low-cost sensors and computer-aided simulations have the potential to bring new opportunities for coal miners. For example, sensors can provide the exact status of various components of the essential equipment like HEMM in real time and analytics can compare the actual configuration with the optimal situation as designed so that the process can be optimized. Digital technologies, data analytics and automation will be increasingly adopted to improve productivity while enhancing safety and environmental performance through multiple applications.
3.     Contribution of Coal India to this Journey
Coal India Limited (CIL) is accountable for more than 80% of domestic coal supply. With the projected growth of the coal demand in the nation, CIL has put together strategies for growth which shall ensure meeting the energy aspirations of the nation. CIL’s growth vision for the short to medium term is based on its target of achieving 1 billion tonnes (BT) of coal by FY2025, fueled by multiple greenfield as well as brownfield projects across its subsidiaries. In cognizance of the enhanced load on logistics systems, CIL has also undertaken capacity augmentation projects in many of its critical areas and coalfields, many of which have already been commissioned.
CIL is actively involved in developing various renewable energy generation sources to reduce the net emission footprint of the organization. CIL is pursuing various diversification initiatives in the field of solar power generation, solar PV manufacturing and surface coal gasification to transform from a coal mining organization to an energy organization. Along with setting up projects, CIL is also continuously investing in the reduction of negative impact on environment by enhancing green cover. CIL has also signed a MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) for decarbonization of CIL’s projects & facilities and identification of opportunities for CIL to adopt clean energy and energy efficient practices.

Even though the share of coal is poised to reduce in the energy basket of India, the quantity of coal is expected to increase. In line with this trend, it is imperative that the organization, which is responsible for supplying the majority of the domestic coal production, must implement strategies across various areas to ensure energy security to the nation as well as lead the green initiative.