Coal-fired power is at the heart of India’s mission to lift millions out of poverty. India has 285 plants with a capacity of 211GW already operating; it’s currently building a further 30GW of coal-fired generation capacity, with a further 35GW in pre-construction stages.
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A visit to India shows how serious it is about serious power generation.
With solar power seen as ‘fake electricity’, by those Indians being forced to use it: The Cruel Hypocrisy: West Drops Wind Power as it Forces ‘Fake Electricity’ on the World’s Poor – there’s little wonder that coal-fired power tops their Nation’s list of must-haves.
Of course, the upside of having reliable and affordable power on tap is not just reducing the daily misery associated with grinding poverty. It’s what happens to education and literacy standards when the poor have access to meaningful power, as Vijay Jayaraj explains below.
On August 23, India landed a craft near the Moon’s South Pole – an historic feat matched only by three other countries and made possible by the subcontinent’s largely uninhibited use of fossil fuels.
The acceleration of coal usage between 2000 and 2020 played a pivotal role in bringing electricity to billions and ushering in a new era of economic growth and improved living standards. So much so, that a nation that once did not even have enough food for its population now has funds for space missions.
Fossil Fuels and the Rise of Electricity Access in India
India is a country with a long history of energy poverty — a term that encapsulates the struggle of millions to access basic electricity services. In 1995, only about 50% of the people had access to electricity. Vast segments of the population suffered stunted economic development and substandard education, healthcare and overall quality of life. Rural homes were shrouded in darkness after sunset, hindering productivity and limiting opportunities.
The situation began to change in the early 2000s as the Indian government committed to expand electricity access. One of the key drivers was the use of fossil fuels, especially coal.
Coal is a cheap and abundant source of energy and well-suited for large-scale power generation. Harnessing its abundant coal reserves, India embarked on a journey to alleviate energy poverty, ignite industrial growth and improve the lives of millions.
By 2020, the number of Indians with access to electricity had reached 99%. Yes, fossil fuels improved the lives of billions.