Sierra Club’s Carl Pope busts myths about cheap coal.
Serra Power’s savvy customers already see through the spiraling costs of coal-based grid power. Many have invested and more are investing in exactly the kind of rooftop solar he is prescribing below. Some are smack in the middle of India’s coal and thermal power heartland. As such, they are intimately familiar with the downtime of these power plants due to unreliable coal supplies.
Remote villages are not the only locations suited to low- carbon alternatives. In African and Indian cities, power companies routinely “load shed” — shutting down power to entire neighborhoods on hot, sunny afternoons when air conditioners overwhelm the local grid. To protect themselves, businesses and the middle class rely on dirty, expensive diesel generators, storing the power in batteries and wasting as much as 25 percent of the energy in the process.
Rooftop solar panels would generate power reliably — even when demand peaks. Moreover, solar power would pay for itself with savings that would otherwise be squandered on diesel fuel and a leaky grid. Rooftop solar could end the curse of load- shedding throughout Asia and Africa — and be profitable. The customers are waiting. What’s needed are suppliers and permission from power authorities for consumers to sell their excess electricity back to the local grid.
The article brings out some great points:
- Most of coal cost is due to diesel fuel used in mining and transporting it. Not due to labor or licensing.
- India’s electricity tariff is built on assumption of $40/ton coal, which no longer holds.
- Coal cost now at $120/ton in Asia, India’s electricity tariff will double in short term.
- 42,000 MW of coal power plants have been scrapped in India. Tata Group has already given up on coal power plants.
- RBI has warned investors on enormous risks of coal power plants.