Coal India produces about 80% of India’s coal and they are installing a 2 MW solar power plant at one of their coal making sites. Sampalbur coal plant in Odisha will be the location of this moderately-sized solar facility. However, the company is also planning to install similarly sized solar plants at a number of other locations around the country. Hilariously, Coal India told local media they are installing solar to reduce their energy bills.
Reportedly, a Coal India document went so far as to say they recognize renewables are attractive, ‘India has an abundance of sunshine and the trend of depletion of fossil fuels is compelling energy planners to examine the feasibility of using renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and so on.’ (Reneweconomy.au)
At the same, India has been predicted to become the second-largest coal consumer in the world in the next five years. It has also been estimated that in the same time frame India will become the largest seaborne importer of coal. Such voracious coal usage does come out a great public health cost. For example, a Green Peace report found that there are 20 million new cases of asthma in India due to coal-related air pollution. Approximately 80-120,000 premature deaths are also linked to the same toxic air pollution, according to the report. One idea has been to ban the importation of low quality coal because burning it creates more of the noxious air pollution.
So it appears they are adopting an energy strategy similar to the popular hybrid car trend that has been growing around the world. Combining old and new technologies can seem to be a safer strategy to some because the pace of change is more gradual. Another Indian coal company and even a domestic oil corporation are both going solar as well.
In a sense, coal is also assisting the development of more solar power in India due to a government tax upon it. This coal tax is linked with 750 MW of additional solar power projects.
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