India has asked utilities to not retire coal-fired power plants till 2030 due to a surge in electricity demand, as reported by Reuters on January 30. On January 20, the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) issued a notice to officials in the federal power ministry, advising that all power utilities not retire any thermal power generation units till 2030 and ensure the availability of units through renovation and modernization activities if required. The latest administrative order goes against India’s previous commitment to eventually phasing down the use of coal.
At the COP26 summit in November 2021, India agreed to a final statement committing all nations to phase out coal power. One year later, at COP27, India sought to broaden the agreement by proposing a phasedown of all fossil fuels, not just coal. The proposed change can be seen as India’s ploy to divert attention from its own initiatives on reducing coal use, considering its role as the world’s second-largest consumer, producer, and importer of coal. In May 2022, India announced plans to reduce coal power generation from 81 plants over the next 4 years. However, due to a surge in power demand, India has neither pledged to shut down any of its 179 coal power plants nor set a formal timeline for phasing down the use of coal. On January 18, India recorded its peak power demand of 210.6GW, 1.7% higher than the previous peak stemming from an intense heatwave last April which resulted in India’s worst power crisis in 6.5 years.