Coal production to double to 1 bn tonne by 2019: Piyush Goyal
New Delhi: Government is targeting doubling coal production to a billion tonnes in the next five years to meet rising energy demands in the country, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said here today.
Referring to coal as "an essential input for power", the Minister also called for an increasing private sector role in coal production and expressed interest in new gas discoveries and ways to get gas plants back on stream.
"I see Coal India production doubling in the next five years. It makes about 500 million tonnes hopefully this year. We (will) do a billion tonnes in 2019," said Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal as well as New and Renewable Energy.
Speaking here at India Economic Summit, organised by WEF and CII, the Minister predicted a "huge investment opportunity" of nearly $250 billion in the energy sector over the next four to five years, including $100 billion in renewables and $50 billion in transmission and distribution.
"This government is sincere in giving power to all and this government will protect investments as we go forward," he said.
Speaking on the same panel, Dong-Kwan Kim, Managing Director of Korea's Hanwha Group, flagged the advantages of solar power, saying if the government can provide a stable regulatory environment, "investors are ready to flock to India."
Kim raised the issue of air quality and questioned coal's role as a sustainable energy option. Referring to China's experience, he said that air pollution has become "a driving force to pressure the government."
He further added that "people don't complain about climate change on a daily basis. Air pollution, once it gets past a certain threshold, becomes a daily issue and a health issue for everyone.
"As India doubles capacity in power generation I think (air pollution) is going to become a more and more politically salient issue."
Tejpreet Singh Chopra, CEO of Bharat Light and Power, said that the cost of solar power production has fallen in recent years from $6 to $0.55 per watt, but the "Holy Grail" for solar power is to reduce the cost of storage technologies.
At the Summit, Ashvin Dayal, Associate Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia, at Rockefeller Foundation, announced his organisation's intention to invest in 1,000 mini-grids across India as one way of starting to reach the 53 million households still without electricity.