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India wants energy transition on its own terms – without phasing out coal and with more grants

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Infrastructure (Energy)


Source: TH

 Context: India is unlikely to reach an agreement – ‘just energy transition partnership’ (JETP) – with richer nations this year.



  • According to the IEA, India is the world’s third-largest power consumer.
  • Last year, the country faced one of its worst power crises as a heatwave swept across the nation.
  • Coal use will peak in India between 2030 and 2035, meanwhile, the country needs funding to strengthen its renewable grid and infrastructure.


About JETP with India:

  • The Ministry of External Affairs is considering JETP proposals as India helms the G20 presidency.
  • The G7 industrialised nations, together with Norway, Denmark and the EU, believe a JETP with India will financially empower it to reduce emissions from power production.


Similar pacts:

  • JETPs with South Africa and Indonesia are all about coal phase-out.
  • $15.5 billion for Vietnam to help it transition away from coal, with most of the money as loans.


How does a JETP with India seem unlikely?

  • International funding rests on India committing to a timeline to phase out coal, which is not viable for the country as it will see an increase in energy demand and the possible increase in coal capacity.
  • Hence, India wants a JETP on its own terms – no phase-out of coal and funds for clean energy expansion in the form of grants, not loans.


Coal vs renewable energy debate in India:

  • India has recently relaxed environmental consultations on coal mine expansions, boosted its coal production and cited coal as critical for energy security in global climate dialogues.
  • But the country still aims to reduce coal from the current 50% of its energy mix to about 30% by 2030, while building 500 GW of new renewable capacity by 2030.
  • With renewable energy storage capacity currently weak and expensive, India will phase out coal only when it is sure the transition won’t cause power disruptions.


Challenges for India:

  • At least five Indian states depend heavily on the country’s coal economy.
  • To ensure clean and affordable energy for all while moving away from fossil fuel.
  • To meet its renewable energy targets, India will have to invest an average of $27.9 billion annually up to 2029, but its budget allocations aren’t sufficient.


Way ahead:

  • India’s transition efforts need to be mindful of people’s energy aspirations and alternate livelihood for workers.
  • Even if we cannot cut down on coal, we have to prepare for a phase-down.



India may be able to use its position as G20 leader this year to steer discussions on a deal toward just transition while scaling renewable capacity and investments in new technologies.


Inta Links:

India’s just energy transition is more than a coal story


Mains Links:

Do you think India will meet 50 per cent of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030? Justify your answer. How will the shift of subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables help achieve the above objective? Explain. (UPSC 2022)