Private Indian Companies Explore Revived Interest in Coal Power Generation

Doug Sutton<br>Partner & Interim CEO

Doug Sutton
Partner & Interim CEO

A recent article published by Reuters stated that private Indian companies are showing renewed interest in expanding their coal-fired power generation capacity after a six-year hiatus, according to sources familiar with the matter. Major players like Adani Power, JSW Group, and Essar Power have expressed their willingness to the Indian government to revive stalled projects or enhance existing plants, potentially adding at least 10 Gigawatts of coal-based power over the next decade.

These potential investments, which could cost billions of dollars, signify a resurgence of appetite in an industry once deemed financially unattractive. However, they also pose a threat to India’s efforts to reduce its reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources, as the country is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter globally.

The Indian government, citing energy security concerns and low per-capita emissions, has been actively seeking private investment to boost its coal-fired capacity by 80 GW by 2032. Currently, coal-fired power plants account for approximately half of India’s total installed capacity of 430 GW, while renewables and hydropower make up the remaining share.

According to sources and a government presentation, Adani Power plans to add 4.8 GW, JSW aims for a 1 GW expansion, and Essar Power intends to develop 1.6 GW of new domestic coal-based power generation in Gujarat by 2029. Another source indicates that Vedanta will contribute an additional 1.9 GW of capacity.

The Association of Power Producers (APP), representing coal-fired power developers, has urged the government to provide more flexible coal and power supply agreements, streamline clearances, and ensure domestic credit availability to facilitate these investments. The association has also advocated for state lenders like Power Finance Corp (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corp (REC) to take the lead in financing these projects.

Despite India’s commitments to reduce emissions, the government emphasizes the need for energy security and points to the country’s relatively low per-capita emissions as justification for its continued reliance on coal-fired power generation.

In the face of surging energy prices, innovative solutions like AI Energy Technologies’ Navigator can empower utilities to optimize operations, reducing energy production costs and passing savings to customers, while simultaneously curbing toxic emissions. AI Energy Technologies has developed Navigator, a cutting-edge technology that leverages Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to enhance the energy production efficiency of power plants, enabling them to generate the same amount of energy with reduced fossil fuel consumption. This technology requires no upfront investment in hardware and can be installed and fully operational within a few months. Navigator has been proven to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and provide a substantial return on investment, ranging from 5 to 50 times the cost of deploying the software. This solution represents an important step in mitigating the negative impact of fossil fuel-based energy production.