Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Net Zero Challenge: India Lacks A Policy Framework For Decommissioning Thermal Power Plants

There is increasing clamour the world over to move away from coal-based thermal power generation in order to reduce GHG emissions. India has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2070, which will entail dismantling such power plants. But it’s easier said than done in the absence of a policy framework
October 20, 2023
Thermal Power
The National Electricity Plan 2023 has listed 19 more plants with a capacity of 26,900 MW for retirement (representative image). Photo: PxHere

India’s push towards net zero emissions by 2070 appears to have saddled it with a king-size dilemma. To start with, it must drastically reduce the use of coal for power generation. Yet, shutting down thermal power plants is easier said than done since this is beset by social, economic, and environmental impacts, which were neither anticipated nor planned for. Above all, shutting down plants is costly, amounting to billions of dollars.

When thermal power plants were first built in India in the 1960s and ’70s, they were expected to meet the urgent requirement for energy. Global warming did not exist even in distant imagination, which is why little thought was given to the aspect of closing down coal-powered plants. Though on paper such plants were supposed to last 25 years, they were allowed to function well beyond their end-of-life cycle. The present reality has, however, drastically altered the picture.

India bravely announced at Glasgow in 2021 that it would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070. But it soon realised that translating its commitment into action meant that it had to replace ‘dirty’ coal-fired power plants with renewable energy generation. But shutting down coal-based thermal plants presented enormous unforeseen difficulties.

Since the turn of the century 432.5 GW (giga watt) of coal power capacity has been retired worldwide, according to the Global Energy Monitor. Of this, 60% of the retired capacity was in the US and China, 7% in the UK, 6% in Germany, 4% in India and 2% in Canada.

Unlock Premium Content!
Subscribe Now for Exclusive News Coverage

We do not depend on advertisers to bring you the most important stories from the social and development sectors. Support us by becoming a member to keep our reporting free and fair in public interest.

₹ 100/-
1 Day Access
  • You get access to all our stories for one day
₹ 1000/-
12 Months at just ₹2.80 per day
  • You get access to all our stories for one year.
  • You get access to the entire archive.
₹ 1800/-
24 Months at just ₹2.45 per day
  • You get access to all our stories for two years.
  • You get access to the entire archive.

Already a member?

For bulk subscription for institutions, libraries, universities please write to us at: subscription@tatsatchronicle.com

Kalyan Chatterjee

The writer has been a media professional for 38 years. He was the former HoD of the Amity School of Communication, Amity University.