Solar prices have been falling across the world, which has caused a dramatic shift in power station production. India has seen that decrease, and because of it, they will no longer be building coal-fueled power stations that would have totaled at 13.7 gigawatts of energy.
Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), explained how big this change was to The Independent.
“For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound...Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable."
How much of that is “unviable?” 8.6 gigawatts of the coal power plant industry that’s valued at $9 billion US according to the analyst’s article on the IEEFA website. That’s due to the high costs of bringing coal in certain areas of India. Eventually, those places will transition to renewable sources.
In the big picture, that’s just a very small portion of the coal. Over 192 gigawatts of energy are powered by coal, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of production in India. Nearly 30 percent of energy comes from renewable sources. However, the trend of increasing solar production continues.
Buckley’s report details how low taxes have become in importing solar products. The lowest was roughly Rs 2.44, or $0.04 US per kilowatt-hour, which was won at an auction from Indian firm, Acme. That’s seven percent lower than what was won at a different auction just two days earlier. Three months ago, the record low was Rs 2.97, or $0.05 US.
India will soon host the second-biggest solar plant in the world. 900 megawatts of solar energy are generated in the Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park and 100 megawatts are still under construction. The massive solar park stretches out to nearly 6,000 acres. It powers 80 percent of the Kurnool district, which has well over four million people.
At the end of last year, India’s government announced that they would halt any further production of coal-fired power plants beginning in 2022. At the time, just over 50 gigawatts were in the works from this year to then. However, with nearly 14 gigawatts getting chopped off, that could impact much of the production down the road.
That same stretch will see over 100 gigawatts of solar and wind energy sources added. Climate Change News reports that the Central Electricity Authority’s plan for transitioning to cleaner energy will boost that 30 percent of renewable energy to around 53 percent by 2027.