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World’s biggest coal company turns to solar – to save energy costs

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The world’s largest coal mining company – Coal India – is looking to innovative solution to reduce its own energy bills: it’s installing solar energy.

The company, which is listed but government controlled, and which accounts for more than 80 per cent of coal production in India, is installing a 2MW plant at its Sampalbur coal plant in Odisha. It plans to install solar at its operations across the country, including at its mining research arm, the Central Mine Planning and Design Institut.

Officials told local media DNA that the installation of solar PV at mines and staff housing areas is aimed at reducing Coal India’s own energy bills.

But the most striking aspect of the decision is the company’s own recognition that fossil fuels are depleting, and that solar is approaching grid parity.

“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,” Coal India’s bid document said.

Another state-owned coal company, Neyvili Corp, as well as Oil India, are also venturing into the solar market, Neyvili is building a 10MW solar PV plant with an option to upgrade to a 25MW facility.

Across India, around 2.3GW of solar is expected to be installed by 2016, with more expected as distributed solar provides cheaper options that sourcing electricity from the grid.

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  • JonathanMaddox

    The irony is delicious, and not ironic at all.

  • patb2009

    are they a coal company or an energy company. If the latter, this is perfectly rational.

    • Agentpapers43

      Uh, their name is Coal India. I think its a coal company.

  • http://energyinachangingclimate.info/ Martin Nicholson

    Remote coal mines are often not grid connected. They use diesel generators. Diesel is certainly more expensive than solar during the day. At night they probably revert to diesel.