draft national power plan: need for 28 GW of additional coal-based capacity by FY32: draft national power plan

India will need additional coal-based capacity of up to 28 GW by FY32, on top of the 25 GW already under construction, according to the draft national power plan. However, the addition of capacity should take place at existing project sites as an expansion of brownfields, preferably closer to the mines, the report said.

The peak electricity demand and electric power requirements of all India is 272 GW and 1,874 Billion Units (BU) for the year 2026-27 and 363 GW and 2,538 BU for the year 2031-32, respectively according to preliminary estimates of demand projections, the report showed.

The projections are higher than the peak demand of 256 GW projected for 2027 and 320 GW for 2032 by the government three years ago. Increasing base load capacity has gained importance to support the country’s ambitious renewable energy target of 500 GW by 2030. Renewable energy generation is intermittent.

The project is also a stark reversal of an internal study last year by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the planning wing of the Union Department of Energy, which suggested that new coal-based capabilities are unlikely in this decade and that energy storage is likely to be the new supporting load. “Based on the scenario analysis, it appears that apart from 25 GW of coal-based capacity being built, the additional coal-based capacity required until 2031-32 may vary by 17 GW to around 28 GW,” the report said.

The scheme comes amid the UK’s announcement last week to cap consumers’ electricity bills in a $115bn package that also lists the issuance of new oil and gas exploration licenses in North Sea, in addition to removing the ban on hydraulic fracturing if the locals agree. Most European countries, the United States and China increased their coal-fired generation as Russia regulated gas supplies.

Last month, the Union Cabinet approved India’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) commitments: net zero by 2070, 50% of cumulative installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy resources by 2030 and reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030 from 2005 levels. The absolute target of 500 GW has been removed from the commitments.

The draft CEA report projected the share of non-fossil capacity to increase to 57.5% by the end of 2026-27 and 68.4% by the end of 2031-32, from around 40% in March 2022. Additional capacity of 228,541 MW comprising 40,632 MW conventional (coal-33,262 MW, nuclear-7,000 MW, gas-370 MW) and 187,909 MW renewables are needed in 2022-27 to meet demand electricity demand and energy needs for the year 2026-27.

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