India’s Virus Lockdown Sees Clean Energy Gain at Coal’s Expense
(Bloomberg) -- Clean energy is gaining a greater share of India’s energy mix, a silver lining amid the country’s prolonged virus lockdown that has cut power demand by about a quarter.
Electricity generated from renewable sources, nuclear and hydropower made up 27% of India’s total generation as of April 15, data from grid operator National Load Despatch Centre show. That’s up five percentage points from March 18, a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the world’s largest lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
The gain came at the expense of coal, which saw its share shrink to 65% from 71% over the period. The figures are another sign that the dominant fossil fuel is facing increased competition in India from cleaner sources of energy.
India has embraced renewables to tackle its notorious air pollution and to reduce carbon emissions. Projects enjoy a “must-run” status, meaning power distribution companies are compelled to use solar or wind energy whenever generated. The result: they turn down coal power when demand slips.
Some of the new coal plants are also losing out due to high costs of operation.
“It only reinforces the point that clean energy is fast replacing coal as the most affordable form of energy in our country,” said Sunil Dahiya, an analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy & Clean Air.
“This trend will become more pronounced in time to come, as distribution utilities will increasingly turn to low-cost supplies to improve their financial health,” he added.
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