Coal India Limited (CIL) has recently announced forming two wholly-owned subsidiaries for undertaking solar photovoltaic manufacturing and renewable energy projects. While CIL Solar PV Limited has been incorporated for manufacturing in the solar value chain (ingot-wafer-cell-module), CIL Navikarniya Urja Limited has been formed for renewable energy projects, CIL said in a BSE filing.

In a green push, the state-owned company had earlier announced that it would invest ₹5,650 crores ($763 million) by March 2024 to develop 14 solar projects to help power its mining operations. CIL had also announced it would fund nearly two-thirds of the total capacity of 3 GW of rooftop and ground-mounted solar projects. The company had decided to enter into a joint venture with NLC India and fund the rest of its solar expansion plans.

The company had also received approval from its board to venture into the solar power and aluminum value chain.

In a BSE filing, the coal giant had earlier said that the board had approved the creation of a special purpose vehicle to set up an integrated solar wafer manufacturing facility to boost the solar value chain. It will also set up an integrated aluminum complex — a greenfield project of Central Coalfields Limited, a CIL subsidiary.

Previously, in the Coal Vision 2030 report commissioned by Coal India, it was emphasized that solar could soon become the substitute for coal-fired power in the country.

Referring to the uncertainties surrounding the future of coal in India, the report observed, “With the increasing threat of climate change impacting humanity and the global funding focus on renewables, it is a matter of time when the alternate clean energy would displace coal. To complicate matters further, immediate events such as short-term price movements, out of line with the dominant trend since 2008, have given people the ammunition to argue against a wider and over-arching trend.”

Currently, coal accounts for 70% of India’s power generation, while solar is less than 4%. However, solar energy is likely to witness exponential growth and match coal’s share in the Indian power generation mix by 2040 or earlier. According to a report by the International Energy Agency, the share of coal is expected to decline from 44% in 2019 to 34% in 2040.

Source: Mercom India