WHY IS INDIA’S COAL CRISIS A CAUSE OF CONCERN, AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT?

India is the second-largest consumer, producer and importer of coal. Yet, India barely had one day’s worth of coal on the 10th of October, 2021. 75% of electricity in India is generated with the help of coal. Although India has other sources of energy, such as nuclear and wind, coal remains the top fuel of consumption. Thus, the ever-increasing demand for coal with depleting resources in India has made the coal crisis a cause of concern.

Why are coal resources depleting?

Coal is inexpensive and found in abundance in India. Naturally, emerging economies like India prefer coal for their energy sources. Further, coal-consuming industries like chemical, steel and cement, are expanding in India, making coal highly significant in the future. Now, thermal power plants generate electricity from their daily coal supply from the mines. But heavy rainfall in September 2021 resulted in a considerable reduction in the mining and supply of coal. According to the Ministry of Coal, the demand for coal in October 2021 has already plummeted to 16 lakh tonnes compared to 14 lakh tonnes in May 2021. Along with the hike in coal imports, it has led to dangerously low levels of coal stocks. 

What is the alternative? 

India is one of the few countries at the forefront of harnessing and converting renewable energy sources into usable forms. India is falling short to meet its energy demand. Hence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also suggested shifting to more sustainable forms of energy, such as solar energy. 

Reduction in our reliance on coal would mean finding alternate sources to generate electricity, filling up on the declining coal reserves, and replacing the raw materials in industries. It means increased dependence on solar, wind, nuclear and thermal energies. Shifting to alternate energy sources will not happen overnight. 

Source of concern 

Pollution and global warming are associated with the consumption of coal. Unchecked coal consumption harms the environment to dangerous levels and exposes the nation to dwindling coal resources. A situation characterized by a coal shortage would result in an insufficient power supply. Adopting renewable energy sources would help address these concerns.

Renewable energies are vital for long-term development and the protection of the environment. The most significant challenge faced in adopting renewable energy sources is the cost incurred in installation. However, renewable energy sources can reduce the burden placed on coal resources.

Conclusion

India is mainly dependent on coal for energy production and economic growth. We need to accelerate finding alternate energy sources to avert a severe power outage in the long run. Perpetually increasing population, industrial expansion, and depleting coal reserves worldwide have made adopting alternate energy sources necessary. Though the adoption of renewable energy sources comes with its challenges, it presents a path to more sustainability of our environment. 

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