Coal-based electricity generation is the backbone of power supply in the country, and it is going to stay this way for the next two-three decades, state-run power giant NTPC's Chairman and Managing Director Gurdeep Singh said on Wednesday. He also suggested that India needs to focus on dispatchable renewable energy and low-cost funding to boost clean or non-fossil fuel-based power generation.
Participating in a panel discussion at the BloombergNEF Summit here, Singh was of the view that instead of talking about phasing out coal-based thermal power plants, India needs to focus on dispatchable renewable energy. "Why are people too much concerned about coal? Today we are supplying three-fourths of the electricity from coal-based plants. These coal-based power plants are the backbone (of the power supply in the country or baseload).
"What we need to look at is how to reduce coal-based generation rather than phase down or phase out coal-based power plants. Let's now talk about that. It is too early to talk about that (phasing out coal-based plants). I think coal (based power) it is going to stay for two to three decades," he said. India has set a target of having 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030. "We need to make this renewable energy dispatchable and reliable... what is really important is the consumer gets affordable, reliant 24X7 power on demand. My concern is that we may have to start new coal-based power plants to meet the requirement," Singh said.
He also suggested that economical solar and wind energy can complement coal-based thermal power during the day, which would help reduce fossil fuel-based electricity consumption. He also favored having new efficient and environment-friendly coal-based thermal power plants rather than running old and inefficient ones. Singh also said it is important that low-cost long-term funding is made available in the country to accelerate the growth of renewable energy.
NTPC supplies one-fourth of the electricity in India. It is also entering the hydro, solar, and wind energy segments. The company aims to have 60 GW of renewable energy capacity in the next decade.