- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Solving India’s Coal Dilemma: Energy Needs vs. Climate Disruption

Summer 2007

Belfer Center researchers Ananth Chikkatur and Ambuj Sagar, both with the Energy Technology Innovation Project (ETIP), have been studying the Indian coal-power sector over the past two years, with the aim of developing better technology policies and strategies to meet domestic energy needs while addressing global climate change.

Coal-based power plants account for nearly 50 percent of India's installed electricity capacity, and recent projections indicate a rapid rise in new capacity, primarily fueled by coal. These plants are now based almost solely on the cheap and least risky sub-critical pulverized coal technology; however, there are cleaner and more advanced technologies available worldwide. "In light of India's current and future challenges and constraints,"

Chikkatur points out, "it is critical to assess these new technologies for India." Key existing and emerging challenges include rapid infrastructure development, energy security, local environment and social issues, and carbon mitigation. India also has several constraints such as the poor quality of its domestic coal and limited technological and financial capacity.

Policy options discussed by Chikkatur and Sagar include:

  • Improving the efficiency of the existing power system.
  • Rapidly deploying more efficient and commercial combustion technologies.
  • Establishing a Monitoring & Feasibility Assessment Program to evaluate the appropriateness of emerging technologies.
  • Developing a strategic technology innovation program, buttressed by a program of domestic policy research.
  • Exploring geological carbon storage opportunities in India, which will yield valuable information for India's carbon mitigation options.

An upcoming ETIP working paper by Chikkatur and Sagar describes these policy options in detail. Sagar believes that their work can be a foundation for building consensus among various stakeholders in India, and therefore they are engaging with Indian policy makers on developing a more comprehensive and detailed technology assessment process and innovation strategy.


A Chikkatur/Sagar article with more detail is available at http://bcsia.ksg.harvard.edu/publication.cfm?program=article&ctype=article&item_id=1706


For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Solving India’s Coal Dilemma: Energy Needs vs. Climate Disruption.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Summer 2007).