plants in the energy sector. There will be huge envi-ronmental and social costs associated with coal usepatterns in India in the future. If Indian power plantscontinue to depend on poor subcritical technology likethat available in 2010 it will be nearly impossible toachieve the commitments made on GHG reductionsin the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution(INDC) to the United Nations Framework Conventionon Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.EmissionsfromtheIndianthermalpowersectorarecrucial, due to low operational efficiency. For coal toplayanimportantroleinIndia’senergysector,theoper-ational efficiency of power plants must be improvedsignificantly to allow them to play a vital role in GHGreduction. In the last decade, thermal power capacityincreased rapidly and exponential growth is possiblein the next decade. Concurrently, by adopting low-emission coal technology India has been making a greateffort to improve operational efficiency, thereby reduc-ing GHGs. It is extremely important, in fact essential, toevaluatethemagnitudeofpast,presentandfutureemis-sions. To our knowledge, the present study is the first ofits kind to quantify emission of GHGs for the emergingIndian thermal power sector by evaluating the rapidpenetration of transmuting coal technology during theperiod 2010−2025. This study will also attempt to clar-ify environmental performance with respect to energysecurity. This will redefine India’s part in future emis-sion reductions as per the climate policy discussion inthe 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21)to the UNFCCC towards GHG emission reductionpledged by countries across the globe.Activity data and methodFor the present analysis, activity data have been assem-bled from numerous sources such as government2
Environ. Res. Lett.12(2017) 1050064500004000003500003000002500002000001500001000005000001971198119912001201020152025YearCoal Fired Thermal Power Plants (Capacity)408203Capacity in MW750817122400716123597117190516Figure 1.Growth of Indian coal-based thermal power plants in MW (1971–2025).websites, individual power plant sites, government/ministry/company reports and scientific reports andjournals. Some micro-level fuel activity data were alsocollectedfromvariouspaid-forwebsiteslikeIndiastataswell as free-access sites. The data used show large tem-poral variation, including activity details like the spatiallocationofplants,fueltype/size,consumptionpatterns,technology used, etc. It is worth noting here that thepreparation of such a multi-year data set is not onlya time-consuming but also a painstaking task. Indiancoal-fired thermal power plant capacity increased from7508 MW in 1971 to 190 516 MW in 2015, and willreach 408 203 MW well before 2025, as shown in figure1. The spatial location of each power plant is identi-fied and mapped in a GIS environment. The temporalgrowthofpowerplantcapacitycanbeseenintheimagesdepicted in figure2, where the size of the circles indi-cates power capacity. Here the bigger the circle thehigher the capacity, and vice versa. It is clear fromfigure2that the capacity of Indian power plants hasdoubled in the last 5 years (2010–15) and is expectedto expand much more rapidly in the next decade (i.e.