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Never again will there be a coal shortage

GS Paper 3:

Syllabus: Change in industrial policy and their effects, Infrastructure, energy, etc.



  • The Union Coal Minister said that there was a shortage of coal due to an extraordinary situation.
  • The demand for power went up due to improved economic activity, but at the same time power plants operating on imported gas and coal stopped producing power because of high gas and coal prices.
  • Coal prices increased from$40 a tonne to $210 a tonne. Also, power plants operating with blended coal (partly imported) stopped importing and began demanding domestic coal.



  • It originates from organic matter wood, when large tracts of forests are buried under sediments, wood is burnt and decomposed due to heat from below and pressure from above.
  • This phenomenon makes coal but takes centuries to complete.
  • Classification of Coal(on the basis of carbon content and time period):


  1. It is the best quality of coal with the highest calorific value and carries 80 to 95% carbon content.
  2. It ignites slowly with a blue flame and is found in small quantities in Jammu and Kashmir.


  1. It has a low level of moisture content with 60 to 80% of carbon content and has a high calorific value.
  2. Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh have deposits of Bituminous.


  1. It carries 40 to 55% carbon content and is often brown in colour with high moisture content thus, gives smoke when burnt.
  2. Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam), and Tamil Nadu have deposits of Lignite.


It is the first stage of transformation from wood to coal with low calorific value and less than 40% carbon content.


Current Affairs     


  • The top 5 States in terms of total coal reserves in India are: Jharkhand > Odisha > Chhattisgarh > West Bengal > Madhya Pradesh.
  • The leading coal producers of the world include China, US, Australia, Indonesia, India.


Coal Blending:

  • Coal blending is a practice that has been undertaken by many power stations to provide a consistent feedstock of fuel for power generation or to meet different requirements such as solving transportation problems, fuel cost, reducing slagging, and SOx emission.
  • Low-grade (high ash) coal can be mixed with higher-grade (imported) coal without deterioration in thermal performance of the boiler, thus reducing the cost of generation.


Coal Gasification:

  • Coal gasification is a process in which coal is partially oxidized with air, oxygen, steam, or carbon dioxide to form a fuel gas.
  • This gas is then used instead of piped natural gas, methane, and others for deriving energy.
  • In-situ gasification of coal – or Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) – is the technique of converting coal into gas while it is still in the seam and then extracting it through wells.
  • It produces Syngas which is a mixture consisting primarily of methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and water vapour (H2O).
  • Syngas can be used to produce a wide range of fertilizers, fuels, solvent, and synthetic materials.


India’s Dependence on coal:

  • The installed capacity for coal-based power generation across the country was 2.04 lakh megawatt (MW). This accounts for about 5% of power from all sources.
  • Coal-based power stations are retired periodically which happens all the time. But is not fast enough nor are new additions being halted.
  • Coal is still most inexpensive compared with other present sources of energy.
  • According to the IEA’s Coal Report 2021, India’s coal consumption will increase at an average annual rate of 9% to 1.18billon tonnes in 2024.


Current Affairs

Current Affairs


Impact of coal on the environment:

  • The threat of global warming is looming over the planet, bringing unprecedented natural calamities. An effective way to keep the danger at bay is to cut the use of fossil fuels coal, natural gas, and oil. About 80% of the world’s energy requirements are met by these three fuels.
  • Coal emits nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas and about 60% more than oil, on a kilogram comparison having a greater role in global warming.
  • Combusting coal also leaves behind partially burnt carbon particles that feed pollution and trigger respiratory disorders.
  • The power sector in India, which uses the majority of the coal, accounts for 49% of total carbon dioxide emissions, compared with the global average of 41%.


Insta Links:

Prelims link:

Coal, types of coal

Content of different varieties of coal

Geographic locations of coal-producing states in India and the world

Coal blending

Coal gasification

Mains Link:

The demand for coal energy is going to increase over the next decade. Critically analyze its impact on energy and the environment.


Q 4.Consider the following statements:

  1. Syngas contains carbon monoxide but negligible amounts of carbon dioxide.
  2. In Coal, gasification coal is reduced to produce coal gas and fertilizers.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2