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The future of India's coal-fired power generation capacity

Yang, Joonseok, Urpelainen, Johannes
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.226 pp. 904-912
carbon dioxide, coal, databases, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, longevity, power generation, India
Given the size and growth prospects of the Indian economy, the Indian power sector plays a key role in the global effort to mitigate climate change. Here we use the January 2017 edition of the Coal Tracker database to understand the future prospects for Indian coal. Using improved lower and upper bounds for potential construction and capacity factors, we find that lifetime emissions over the next five decades from Indian coal-fired power generation could range from 18 to 39 gigatons. The single most important way to reduce these emissions is to reduce the average lifespan of plants, as neither falling capacity factors nor lower construction rates bring India's power sector in line with the goal of limiting global warming to 2 °C. Our estimations show that reducing the lifespan of plants from 40 to 30 years alone can decrease cumulative CO2 emissions by approximately 12 gigatons, which is equivalent to saving 5.8% of the global carbon budgets for 2 °C targets.