“The issue of coal is really an issue of energy security. India has reserves of coal which it needs to tap to provide energy to its people and to propel its development agenda. At the same time, it is committed to using this coal cleanly and sustainably,” said Piyush Goyal, the Union minister for power, coal and new and renewable energy, addressing the opening session of a three-day international conference on coal-based power, which began here today.
The conference – Coal-based Power: Confronting the Environmental Challenges — which has participants from China, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa, UK and India, has been organised by the New Delhi-based public interest research and advocacy body, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The coal-based power sector is in the midst of a major transition across the world. Since it will remain central to energy requirements in the foreseeable future, its significant environmental impacts need to be urgently addressed. CSE says this conference aims to do that by “opening up the debate on the future of coal and coal-based energy”.
Speaking at the same session, CSE director general Sunita Narain said for nations like India which were struggling with acute energy poverty, coal is a necessity. While these nations must move eventually towards a new, cleaner renewable-based energy future, coal-based power – but one which was as clean as possible – is needed in the interim to alleviate the energy poverty.
Echoing the minister’s and Narain’s sentiments, Ashok Lavasa, secretary, Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, said: “This is not a case for coal, but one for meeting the power demands of the people of this country. What we need to do is use the best technology available for sourcing energy from coal, so that the adverse consequences on environment are significantly reduced.”