As the Turnbull government pushes for new-build coal-fired generation in Australia, a new report out of India has suggested the sub-continent could be completely coal free by 2050, with no need to build another coal power plant after 2025, as the ever cheaper renewables and energy storage make the fossil fuel redundant.
The report, published on Monday by The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) in New Delhi, says renewables and batteries could undercut coal in India in less than a decade, as long as costs of the technologies continue on their current trajectory.
And if that happens, the report adds, it will reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 600m tonnes, or 10 per cent, after 2030.
This would be a major win for India, which – quite unlike Australia – faces huge growth in electricity demand, as the government works to supply power to the millions of people who do not yet have it.
With about 60 per cent of India’s electricity already generated from coal, and despite ambitious targets to build more renewables, the country is planning to build an extra 65GW of coal-fired capacity in the next few years.
But the need to build new coal could be staunched by 2025, Teri says, as long as the cost of both renewables and battery storage come down to half their current price by that time – and as long as the government puts the right policy settings in place.
“This is perfectly achievable if government gets its policies right,” said Teri’s director general, Ajay Mathur. “India’s power sector could be coal-free by 2050.”
“If a cloud comes over a large solar farm, the grid should be able in an instant to buy power from a stored source — most likely batteries.”
AFP reports that India’s ministers will on Monday signal their implicit backing for the conclusion by attending the report’s launch.