Renewable power is showing to be resilient against the coronavirus whereas fossil fuel is showing its weaknesses and could see its peak over the next 10 years.
The restrictions to travel that have been imposed in India have meant that the switch to clean renewable energy from polluting fossil fuels is happening at an unexpected rate.
India is currently the second largest consumer of coal in the whole world and with the lockdown that was introduced on 25 March leading to a significant decrease of 30% in electricity demand means that coal power in India has taken the biggest hit.
Back in 2018, the International Energy Agency forecasted that the demand for coal in India would double by the year 2040 which was a huge concern globally as countries aimed to reduce coal usage to meet climate change targets.
However, due to the effects the coronavirus is having, if the correct policies are introduced by the Indian government then the peak of coal usage in India could happen within the next decade.
The director of energy finance studies for the Australia and South Asia region at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Tim Buckley, has said that he believes India will reach their peak coal consumption over the next ten years.
He went on to say that there is now real potential for India to make swift green transition and surprise other nations around the world by increasing their decarbonisation in a very cost-effective manner.
Before the coronavirus pandemic there was already backing from government in India to increase renewable energy.
Prime minister, Narendra Modi made a pledge at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019 to double the renewable energy power target for India to 450 gigawatts by the end of this decade. Currently India has an installed renewable capacity of 87 gigawatts with the majority of the power coming from solar panels.
The cost for new coal power in India is 4.5 rupees per unit generated whereas the cost of new solar power is only 2.5 rupees per unit of energy generated. Even taking into consideration the expensive batteries needed to store solar power in for when it gets dark, solar energy still comes out cheaper than its fossil fuel counterpart.
Many coal power plants in India have also been facing problems of their own in recent years as cash flow has dried up meaning many are running well under their capacity.
A recent report shows that last year, more than 66 per cent of additional generating capacity which was added to the Indian grid came from renewable sources.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak some analysts had stated that they could see India were on the right path to a green transition and that coal will not be at the forefront of India’s future electricity growth. The recent pandemic has only highlighted this trend and potentially sped up the process of reducing India’s coal usage.
Solar power and wind power are also advantageous over fossil fuels, especially during these current times as once the power plant has been built they are not reliant on supply chains to power them, unlike coal fired power plants that are still reliant on the supply chain for coal so that they can keen generating electricity.
This factor along with renewables being significantly cheaper per unit of energy generated has meant that India’s transition to a green future may happen much quicker than initially anticipated.