Friday, 11 September 2015

Coal Sector | Issues and Solutions

Why in news?
Recently, World Bank has stated that with few exceptional circumstances, it will no longer fund coal projects in developing countries.

Issues in coal sector:
  • Supply side:
    • Pollution
    • High ash content
    • Low coking quality
    • Coal auction irregularities
    • Plants not optimal - not efficient and also degrading environment.
    • Delayed clearences - land, forest, envt
    • Infrastructure - transport - Rail-road  - Cross subsidisation leading to high freight rates
  • Demand side:
    • Coal dependence is high - coal based projects cannot be phased out, there are many cheap plants installed and running to capacity and many are under construction.
      •  gap in switching from coal based power generation to renewable energy future.
    • Low demand - slump in industrial growth, low investments
    • Renewable purchase obligations - pressure on non-renewables
    • Climate change concerns  + emission targets - low demand
SOLUTIONS:
  • Optimal use of coal, this can be ascertained by use of less coal for more output
  • Clean coal tech - Coal washing, coal gasification etc.
  • Moving from present sub-critical coal power plant to super-critical coal power plant.
    • Using super critical plant alone will reduce the coal usage by nearly 15 % .
    •  But, cleaner coal in terms of more efficient coal plant will need technological innovation, policy support and financing.
    • Power grid also needs balancing; with smart grid in operation we can assume coal to be cleaner.
    • India will depend on coal to meet energy requirement, without global support and push for improvement, the result would be suboptimal and more polluting plants.
  •  Use by-products - fly ash - bricks, roads etc.
  • particulate emission should be minimized by treating it before releasing in atmosphere

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