India Hits 1 Billion Tonnes in Coal Production, Easing Import Needs

From Dependence to Dominance: Coal Production Hits Historic 1 Billion Tonnes

India has touched a remarkable milestone in its energy game by reaching the billion-ton mark in coal and lignite production. India reached the billion-tonne production landmark on Friday, which was a 7% increase over last year’s levels at the same time. It will be a crucial moment along the path of India moving to become a fully energy-self-sufficient nation.

Coal Producing States

From 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the reins, India embarked on a serious mission to scale up coal production through a series of reforms. This is important to note, given that this country has been under stress with several challenges, while at the same time, it is struggling to cope with issues related to coal production and its supply. The main aim was simply to cut down on how much coal India needs to buy from other countries, a goal that now looks more achievable than ever.

A detailed breakdown of those production numbers was not immediately shared, but it is estimated that the coal production on its own would have reached 870 million tonnes up to February 26. Great news would be the fact that this production would set records, adding to how much the demand for power really shoots up during summer. Considering coal-fired plants supply in excess of 70% of the electricity on the national grid, this bump in production could not have come at a better time.

But yeah, reaching this point hasn’t been easy.

Most crucially, in 2014, the Supreme Court ruling had come across to say that the allotment process of 218 mines since 1993 had been carried out without competitive bidding, which was “illegal.” This forced the hands of the government to redouble reforms by focusing on better production and mining efficiency using new technology, improving transportation for coal, and opening up the sector for private mining companies. Thanks to these reforms, the quantity of coal purchased from foreign countries for power plants has been coming down massively. The current numbers have been estimated at 21% of the mix from the earlier period, April 2023 to January 2024, when it was almost 22.5% in the same period of the previous year.

This move towards less dependence on imports shows India is on its way to securing its own energy future. The International Energy Agency even reported that through 2026, India will lead an increase in global demand for coal. They expected an 8% rise by 2023, with a yearly 3.5% increase after reaching 1.3 billion tons. It underscores the importance of coal to the energy-deficient country, even as the government has ambitions of bringing down imports and increasing the value addition from domestic output. So yeah, the task of looking ahead to being fully self-reliant by March 2025 doesn’t look far in any way. A very solid plan.

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