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What 2050 possibly hold for coal fired power plants?

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

My school teacher of 4th Grade once gave us a project to create a Self-regulating and self-sustaining ecosphere in a large closed glass jar. It was fun filling it halfway through the soil and planting few saplings in it.

We placed it near a window where sunlight would touch the glass and create most beautiful show of colourful lights in the cold winter mornings. Just in few months, this closed ecosystem came to life and became green and vibrant.

It was kept in that window for next 6 years. I would often go and watch it thriving. All it needed was sunlight. I used to wonder, it has same molecules of water that we had added years back. Same way our earth has sustained and regulated life for eons and it can keep it that way for another eons.

Coming to the present, since last few decades, we humans are fighting with natural forces to control the life. We want better food, better houses, better transportation, better healthcare system, to be precise a lot better life than the lives of forefather and nothing is wrong in it.

But coin always has two sides, when we want better of everything, we are using more natural resources. We are processing them in more possible ways and generating more of unwanted products causing disruption of balances of nature.

How long can we sustain this? If we continue like this, what 2050 will bring us?

Man walking in front of a coal plant releasing smoke
“This is perfectly achievable if government gets its policies right. India’s power sector could be coal-free by 2050.” Ajay Mathur (Teri)

One of major air polluter is Coal fired power plants. According to case Study by Chinese coal industry China's coal usage exploded exponentially from 2000 to 2010 and demonstrated to the world that coal industries can end poverty. At the same time it comes with huge health and environmental cost. Chen Zhu, China’s health minister from 2007 to 2013, stated in the Lancet in 2013 that lung cancer is the leading cause of death in China. About 350,000 to 500,000 people die prematurely each year due to the air pollution caused by the coal industry. Now, China plans to spend over $278 billion over the period of five years in an attempt to control this air pollution.

Looking at this, after heavy investment in coal sector, India too would need to spend large sum of money every year attempting to make densely populated areas like Mumbai, Delhi liveable. Living conditions in world’s most polluted cities like Delhi India or Hotan in China is so poor that schools are shut down during peak pollution indexes.

Indian Government is aiming to connect all 40 million Indian Household with grid and making it available at cheaper rates. This has put CIL, an Indian government company under pressure to produce 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2019-2020 which is nearly double than that what was produced in 2016-17. Currently, India is on third largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

Pollution and carbon footprint is monitored and observed very closely now a days by all and might be that the investment done today will have to be discarded even before the economic life of the plant is over.

Solar panels and wind turbines in field

Liked the NTPC Owned Badarpur Thermal Station of 705MW capacity was closed down on 15th Oct 2018 as a desperate measure to Check air pollution in Delhi.

If no new coal power plants are built after 2025, then most likely considering the economic value of the plants the last coal powered plant in India will be closed by 2050. And if this plan succeeds, then it would be a huge win for the renewable energy sector along with climate change protestors. Nobody has the power to see the future but everybody has the power to create one. It will be very wise to start investing in alternative renewable energy sources like solar energy and wind energy and move one step forward with healthy and sustained life.



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