The country will stop importing coal to run power plants from FY24, Union coal minister Pralhad Joshi said Tuesday. At the end of a brainstorming session on the coal sector, the minister said that keeping in mind the transition in energy mix, ideas were mooted to transform Coal India (CIL) into an integrated energy company which would allow the state-run coal miner install power plants near its mines.
"It was also proposed that CIL could generate 5 giga-watt (GW) of solar power by FY24 and could diversify into coal gasification with a target of 50 MT by 2030," Joshi added.
The session was organised to deliberate on ways of achieving the one-billion-tonne production target by FY24. Including captive production, the country's total coal output in FY19 was 720 million tonne (MT). Joshi added that the coal ministry will co-ordinate with Indian Railways and the shipping ministry to create a smooth transportation network to ferry the fuel.
Even though lower electricity consumption stemming from the economic slowdown made power plants consume 1.8% lesser coal in April-December 2019, than the corresponding period in 2018, thermal coal imports have increased 17.7% in the same timeline. The share of imported coal in power generation increased from 9.4% in 9MFY19 to 11.2% in 9MFY20. However, of the 52.5 MT coal imported by power generators in April-December 2019, about 65% of the fuel was used by plants which are designed to run only on imported coal.