Prospects for coal and clean coal technologies in India
AUTHOR: Stephen J Mills
DATE: December 2007
As the economy continues to grow at 7–8% each year, energy security has become a core focus for the Indian government. The burgeoning economy requires increasing amounts of energy, necessary to fuel the rapid development taking place. India has large reserves of coal but is poorly endowed with oil and natural gas. Despite on-going efforts to diversify the country’s energy mix, coal remains the only abundant energy source and the dominant fuel for power generation and many industrial applications. Most estimates suggest that the country has sufficient reserves to last for well over a century. Despite its poor quality, the economic and strategic benefits of coal over other forms of energy will ensure a continuing central role in the Indian economy.
The largest coal consuming sector is power generation. Currently, all coal-fired plants rely on conventional pulverised coal (PC) combustion technology with subcritical steam conditions. Although efficiency of some stations remains poor, efforts have been made to improve the performance of others via renovation and life extension exercises. Additional coal-fired generating capacity is being added to the country’s power sector and more is planned in an effort to meet the increasing requirements and current electricity shortages.
There is a growing emphasis on the adoption of more advanced technologies and the deployment of clean coal technologies. India’s first supercritical PC power plant is approaching completion and a number of large Ultra Mega Power Projects are being developed. Several forms of fluidised bed combustion technology are well established within the country and their numbers are growing. Coal-fuelled IGCC technology has been developed by BHEL and a large-scale demonstration has been proposed.