NEW DELHI, Nov. 16 (UPI) — India may need to import less coal to meet its demands for energy as it works to retool its energy sector, a minister said at an investment conference.
Coal India, the largest coal-mining company in the world, said its production was up about 7 percent for the year. Sutirtha Bhattacharya, the company’s chairman, said Coal India aims to increase production and sustain a higher level to meet domestic energy demands in one of the world’s leading economies.
Piyush Goyal with the executive Union Council of Ministers was quoted by the Economic Times of India as saying the country could eventually wean itself off coal imports.
“I have been on record to say that I judged that by 2017, India should not need to import coal except for those coastal plants where it is very difficult to transmit coal,” he said in an investment conference. “I am fairly confident the era of shortages is over.”
The emphasis on coal comes at a time of a slowdown in the Indian economy. The Asian Development Bank said gross domestic product for the current fiscal year, which ends March 2016, is expected at 7.4 percent, down from the bank’s estimate in March of 7.8 percent.
Though it’s one of the largest coal producers in the world, Goyal said the Indian economy needed to move beyond fossil fuels for the sake of sustainability.
“A quasi sovereign fund is being launched for renewable energy,” he said.
The ADB in October signed a $200 million loan agreement with New Delhi to support clean energy programs. It’s the first installment of a $500 million lending program for India, which the bank said would catalyze private sector investments in projects ranging from wind to biomass energy.