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Reliance thinktank report: Low calorific coal "required" for India's high economic growth, energy security

By Rajiv Shah
A top-ranking think tank attached with one of India's foremost business houses has warned that, despite the Government of India target have ensure that 40% of the energy needs would be fulfilled by renewable sources in about a decade, this is not going to happen over the next two decades or more.
Worse, the think tank report says, the use of coal, which currently accounts for 67% of India's energy needs, would go down maximum by 7%, reaching 60% about 20 years later. Rest of the 40% of the energy needs would, therefore, be met by not just renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.), but also by nuclear and hydro power plants.
The report approvingly quotes the International Energy Agency (IEA) as saying even the coal that would be used in India would be of low calorific value, producing high levels of greenhouse gases. It says, “The production of high and mid-energy coal (more than 4,200 kcal/kg) has stagnated in India, while the production of low energy coal (less than 4,200 kcal/kg) has more than doubled.”
This has happened because, says the report, “irrespective of the technology used, it is known that coal washing consumes energy and water and adds to the producer's cost.” Thus, it China, it points out, “washing is estimated to account for 18% of total national water use on coal, the second-largest source of water consumption after agriculture.”
Yet underlining why coal will continue to remain important, the report says, the Indian economy is “likely to be among the fastest growing large economies in the world for the next few years and its growth momentum is expected to be sustained for at least the next two decades.” Also, it insists, "Use of domestic coal is strategic as it minimises capital outflow and increases energy security."
Titled “Coal Beneficiation in India: Status and Way Forward”, authored by Swagat Bam, Lydia Powell and Akhilesh Sati, who are with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), attached with the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), the report says, already, the Government of India (GoI) “plans to increase coal production from 607 million tonnes (MT) in 2014-15 to 1.5 billion tonnes (BT) by 2019-20.”
The report – which is based on meetings and field visits conducted for achieving the target of clean coal for mitigation of climate change in India, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia – further says that coal is also “required to boost domestic economic activity by increasing the share of manufacturing in the gross domestic product (GDP) to improve prospects for employment generation and widen access to electricity for all.”
Given this framework, the report says, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India notification of 2014, which insists on having “beneficiated coal” with an ash content not exceeding 34% starting with June 2016 hasn't been achieved, and is unlikely to be achieved in the near future.
“Despite the benefits and supportive policy interventions that have been in place for over two decades, coal washing has not been adopted on a large scale by coal producers and users (particularly power generators)”, the report complains.
“More than 75% of Indian coal has ash content of more than 30% or higher, with somewhere the ash content is as high as 50%”, the report says, adding, “This is high compared to coal traded on the international market where ash share rarely exceeds 15%.”
“Overall, under practical conditions in a given washery, ash levels below 30% at a reasonable yield could be reached only in a very few cases”, the report says, adding, “High ash content is among the reasons why Indian coal scores poorly on energy content.”

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
Is this true: the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), attached with the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)? Has RIL taken over ORF? I thought, being independent, ORF was reliable (pun not intended)

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