Auction of 41 coal mines defeats India’s efforts to reign in CO2 emissions: CEEW

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched the auction of 41 coal mines for commercial mining, saying the market for the commodity is now open and the sales will help turn the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity.

But the list of 41 mines showed several are located in biodiversity-rich forest areas in central India, including a few in one of the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest called Hasdeo Arand that spans 170,000 hectares.

Reacting on this, Karthik Ganesan, Research Fellow, Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW) said, “While India’s coal demand is likely to increase in the next decade, the investment in green-field projects to expand production capacity must be examined more carefully. Import dependence is not a bad thing, especially if it defers or removes investment needs into new mines in pristine environments in the country. The government’s attempt to promote coal-gasification is also puzzling.

Karthik added “From a climate standpoint, it defeats India’s efforts to reign in CO2 emissions. Power generation and industrial applications that use syngas are 40% – 80% higher in CO2 emissions, as compared to those that use natural gas. Syngas is not cheap either. Data from the IEA suggests we might as well unlock deep-water gas instead of pursuing syngas, given the delivered price could be 4 – 6 USD/mmbtu higher than conventional gas. Also, while the use of syngas reduces air pollution outcomes, as compared to burning coal, it comes with a significant risk of polluting underground water resources with phenols and aromatic compounds that are generated in-situ and that could migrate out of the generation wells.”