Indian power utilities imported 60.38 million mt of thermal coal over April 2016-February 2017, down nearly 20% year on year, according to data released by the Central Electricity Authority, seen by S&P Global Platts.
That's assertion made by a new analysis carried out by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the research organization CoalSwarm, which reveals that the number of new coal power plants being built around the world fell by 62 percent past year.
China eliminated unnecessary coal plants and future coal plant development starting in late 2016, announcing the cancellation of 30 large coal-fired power plants amounting to 17 gigawatts (GW), followed soon after by the cancellation of 104 more under-construction and planned coal projects amounting to 120 GW. The report, Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline, is the third annual survey of the globe's coal plant pipeline, and concluded that "the amount of coal power capacity under development worldwide saw a dramatic drop in 2016, mainly due to shifting policies and economic conditions in China and India". The research also found that coal plant retirements are taking place at an unprecedented pace, with 64 gigawatts of retirements in the past two years, mainly in the European Union and the US.
The government plans to reduce the country's dependency on imported coal, to facilitate the consumption of the surplus fossil fuel produced by state-run miner Coal India Limited.
Lauri Myllyvirta, senior global campaigner on Coal and Air Pollution at Greenpeace said that in China and in other parts of the world, 2016 marked a veritable turning point.
"Despite the slowdown in construction of new plants, and plant load factors dipping to an all-time low, there are more than 170 GW of power plants under various stages of approval", campaigner with Greenpeace India Sunil Dahiya said in a statement.
"Closures of old coal plants drove major emission reductions especially in the USA and United Kingdom, while Belgium and Ontario became entirely coal-free and three G8 countries announced deadlines for coal phase-outs", Myllyvirta said.
The Indian go-slow was prompted, according to the authors, by the reluctance of banks to provide funds.
Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm, said: "This has been a messy year, and an unusual one".
"The shift from fossil fuels to clean sources in the power sector is a positive one for health, climate security and jobs".
"The decline in new coal plants in Asian countries is truly dramatic, and shows how a flawless storm of factors is simply making coal a bad investment", said Paul Massara, now of North Star Solar but a former CEO of RWE npower.
However Benjamin Sporton, who runs the World Coal Association, suggested that anyone who thought the coal industry was on its last legs was mistaken.
According to the report, the combination of a slowed new coal plant pipeline and an increase in outdated coal plant retirements brings the possibility of holding global temperature increase to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels "within feasible reach", provided countries continue to step up action. India is now in the midst of a solar power revolution, with bids as low as Rs 2.97 (USD 0.044) per kilowatt-hour and government plans to install 215 GW of renewables (biomass, small hydro, wind, distributed solar PV, and utility scale solar PV) by 2027, the survey said.