India has a problem. Almost four hundred million of its populations are without access to electricity and the existing supply falls ten percent short during peak hours.
India sits on one of the world's largest deposits of coal, yet it can't get it out of the ground quickly enough or transport it fast enough to meet its own demand.
India's answer to this is simple - expand coal production by whatever means are necessary.
Now, I am not here to announce that I have the answer to India's energy problems, but I know one thing and that is simple - coal it is not. This direction leads to the deaths of untold numbers of Indian citizens directly, not to mention the rest of the planet.
This sort of problem the multitude take seriously.
Enter the contradiction. Compass points out,
The problem is expanding mining operations is easier said than done. You see if you layered maps of mineral resources, tribal populations, and endangered wildlife on top of each other you’d see a scary picture. That's because what's left of India's cheapest coal reserves lies in the exact same places as the country's remaining forests which also happen to be home to the country's remaining tiger populations and large numbers of tribal populations. It's this combustible mix that has fueled 'naxal' insurgencies in many parts of the country's coal belt.
What that means is that India's drive to expand coal supplies (as well as build new power plants) runs face first into fierce local resistance. These local communities have held back the goliath of coal expansion with little more than a slingshot and a rock. That heroism, aided by the beauracratic inefficiency of Coal India and a decrepit transportation infrastructure, has caused stagnating production, and heightened project delay.
The first study of the health impact of India's dash for coal, conducted by the World Bank says India's coal plants already cost hospitals up to 4.6 billion dollars per year. Greenpeace says upwards of 120,000 premature deaths are occurring and maybe 20 million new cases of asthma each year. Coal based plants have also led to an alarming increase in heart attacks.
Fortunately not everone agrees that coal is the answer to India's problems.
Dr EAS Sarma (Former Union Power Secretary) and Shankar Sharma (Power Policy Analyst) wrote last year,
An oft repeated statement in recent years is that the continued reliance on coal power is essential to lift the poor people in India from the clutches of poverty. The government and many people in the position of influence have been repeating this statement so often that it seems to be attaining the status of “Goebbels’s Truth”...
When the harsh realities of coal power in the true context of global warming and the overall welfare of our communities are objectively reviewed, the hypocrisy behind such statements/reports will become obvious....
Whereas the successive governments continue to say that coal capacity addition is necessary to provide electricity to all, and through it to eliminate poverty in our country the reality as seen since independence is vastly different. Whereas the total installed power capacity in the country has increased from about 1,000 MW in 1947 to about 212,000 MW in 2013, and the national per capita electricity has increased from less than 100 kWh in 1947to about 800 kWh in 2013, about 300 Million people in the country have no access to electricity. Despite such massive growth in coal dominated electricity grid about 75 Million families have no electricity at all in 2013 as against the Planning Commission’s target of 30 kWh of electricity per family per month as life line energy by 2012.
The reasons given by the official agencies for not being able supply electricity supply to all is that it is not economical to extend the grid power to all villages. Since coal power is economical only in large size grid connected mode, the hollowness of the claim that coal power is needed to electrify all houses becomes clear. A large number of people are living without electricity even in the close vicinity of coal power plants.
A conveniently hidden fact about coal power is the inherent gross inefficiency associated with the coal power. The losses involved in coal burning, steam making, generating, transmitting and distributing electricity is so high that only about 20% of the coal energy reaches the end consumer in the form of electricity even with the best technologies....
India is endowed with a vast potential in renewable energy sources....
We, in India, need to take a much more holistic view of the energy needs of the people vis-à-vis all-round welfare of communities. We should build new clean energy sources regardless of what the West does because it’s the cheapest, cleanest, and best solution for our people. It’s time our ‘leaders’ focused on India’s clean energy future and dropped support for a corrupt dirty coal sector.
The same goes for the rest of the world.
I am not here to point fingers. The developed countries have already contributed enormously to global climate change and they aren't stopping.
For example just last week we could read at Triple Pundit:
The Australian government, under Prime Minister Tony Abbott, seems committed to exacerbating its nation’s climate woes. Even as his Environmental Minister approved a vast coal mine that will produce 40 million tons of CO2-emitting coal per year, Abbott is calling Australia’s strong renewable energy sector into question.
He’s cutting funding for renewables, threatening to remove the 20 percent renewable energy standard and even falling back on the old and largely debunked criticism that wind power has negative impacts on human health. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council looked into the issue in 2010 and again in 2012. And now Abbott is calling for another review. Because, why not?
And just for good measure, he’s also dismantling Australia’s well-regarded plans for curbing carbon emissions and jettisoning the nation’s goals for carbon reductions.
Australia isn't alone with this crap either. At the United Nations' Warsaw meeting, Japan announced that it would jettison its carbon reduction goals, blaming the post-Fukushima loss of nuclear power. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, continued his purge of Canadian government science and his pursuit of Alberta's oilsands, casting an image of Canada as OPEC's future perennial hockey champions. In the United States Texas Republican Lamar Smith took the reins of the House Science Committee, where 17 of its 22 Republican members do not believe in man-made climate change.
And then there is the Polish government which managed to host a pro-coal conference and a climate change summit at the same time.
I haven't even mentioned China...or the USA. Why bother. One is adding more now to the problem then anyone, and the other, well, it has done way more than its share to doom the planet already.
Let me just leave you with this from the Union of Concerned Scientists, A typical-sized 500 megawatt coal-fired electricity plant in the United States puts out each year:
It is way past time to stop relying on mainstream environmental groups, governments, the UN, the World Bank and other international organizations, NGOs, and happy greens. It is up to the multitudes in the North and the South, the East and the West to act with strength and to act NOW...or we can just chuck it in.
The world is dying so that a few can profit. Until we rid the Earth of the cancer of Capital, we will never, ever get a handle on all this. You can talk renewables, wind, solar, and scrubbers until you are blue in the face. It is Capital that is the ultimate problem. There is no easy fix which leaves a capitalist system in place which will save the people of India or the world. Global capital is a mass murderer and should be treated as such.
But today's post returns us to India and now. It comes from The Ecologist.