Feb 17, 2021 - Energy & Environment

India's demand for coal may have peaked in 2018

Reproduced from Ember; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Ember; Chart: Axios Visuals

The clean energy think tank Ember finds India's coal demand may have peaked in 2018 and might never fully return from further declines during the pandemic.

Driving the news: That would break with projections that India's coal thirst will keep rising for a long time as the growing nation's overall energy demand surges.

  • For instance, the International Energy Agency's "stated policies" scenario — which models current and announced policies — sees coal generation rising over this decade.

But, but, but: A lot more renewables are needed to keep coal-fired power from rising. "Peaking of coal-fired generation is contingent on India meeting its wind and solar generation targets," Ember's report states, adding India's not on pace.

Why it matters: India is the world's 3rd-largest carbon emitter. IEA projects that it will see the biggest increase in energy demand of any country over the next 20 years.

  • Fuels used to meet that demand will influence the world's success — or failure — at stemming emissions.

The bottom line: "As India recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic shock, the choices it makes for its power sector can make or break its coal-to-clean electricity transition in the next decade," the report concludes.

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