To contribute India’s commitment to increase non-fossil energy capacity to 500 gigawatt (GW) by 2030, coal and lignite companies have planned to install additional 5,560 megawatt (MW) of renewable capacity in the country with an investment of over Rs 15,000 crore, the coal ministry on Thursday said.
This will take the total installed capacity to 7 GW. Coal India Ltd (CIL) alone has planned to install 3 GW of solar power in the next five years to achieve its net zero target, the ministry said in a statement.
With the recent announcement on new climate targets by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 under ‘Panchamrit Strategy’, India has taken a big step towards cementing its commitment to clean energy.
Since coal has to play a role of primary fuel for power generation in the country for the time being, till renewable source fully caters to our energy demand, the Ministry of Coal in line with the commitment has already moved forward with a comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan, according to the statement.
Action has already started for its speedy implementation. Emphasis is to put major thrust on sustainable development in coal mining, taking care of its environmental and social impact.
A full-fledged sustainable development cell (SDC) in the coal ministry has been established to advise, mentor and plan action to minimise the adverse impact of mining. Apart from suggesting the way forward, its implementation and monitoring, SDC is also formulating a future policy framework for environmental mitigation in the coal and lignite sector of the country.
Extensive work by CIL and its subsidiaries along with Singareni Coal Company Ltd (SCCL) and NLC India Ltd (NLCIL) has already started, effect of which could now be seen in some of these mining companies.
In line with the commitment of India to reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030, bio-reclamation of mined out land has already been taken up on a big scale by all coal companies through a massive tree plantation drive, it said.
In the next five years, target is to cover more than 12,000 hectares of land for plantation, which will help in having carbon sink potential to the tune of more than one lakh tonne per annum. Monitoring of such efforts is being done through remote sensing.
First-mile connectivity (FMC) is a major initiative by coal companies to minimise environmental pollution, where coal is being transported through conveyor belt from coal handling plants to silo for loading. This process eliminates movement of coal through road. Taking a big step, 39 such projects have been planned to be commissioned by 2023-24 with an investment of over Rs 13,000 crore, the ministry said.
CIL alone will enhance its mechanical loading and transport of coal from the present level of 120 million tonnes to 565 million tonnes by 2023-24. These FMC projects will save diesel worth Rs 2,100 crore per annum. There will be a reduction in vehicle density by 2,770 trucks per hour paving the way for significant reduction in carbon emission.
Similarly, surface coal gasification projects have been planned for syngas production to be used further either for production of methanol/ethanol, urea or petrochemicals. This will be a way forward for use of the dry fuel as green coal with relatively lesser carbon footprintand environmental pollution, it added.
One such CIL joint venture (JV) project of 2.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) capacity is already in operation in Talcher Coalfield in Odisha. Other five projects with an investment of about Rs 30,000 crore is under formulation by various subsidiaries of CIL.
The use of LNG to substitute diesel consumption in mining and coal transport equipment has also been planned on a massive scale. A pilot project has been initiated in one of the coal companies. This technology will be replicated shortly in coal transporting dumpers in the first phase for substantial reduction in carbon footprint, the statement said.
On showcasing the clean environment front, 12 new ecoparks in mining area are under different stages of development in all the subsidiaries of CIL, SCCL and NLCIL, and will be completed by the next year.
Extraction of sand from overburden (OB) dump for use in construction is another unique initiative for sustainable development. In addition to this, energy-efficiency measures are also being taken for reduction in carbon footprint. New environment-friendly mining equipment have been introduced on a mass scale by different coal companies to mitigate the impact of carbon emission, it said.
All these activities will pave way in coming five years for benchmarking a better sustainable development effort by coal industry on economic, environmental and social front and also in line with the commitment made in COP26.