In US today a third of electricity is being generated from Thermal Power Plants compared to half about 5 years ago. This has happened due to many reasons. A few of them are tighter Clean Air Act regulations that make it harder to build and operate polluting power plants, targeted campaigning from environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, and, perhaps most of all, a glut of cheap natural gas. This has angered many coal miners and all those associated with thermal power plants. Common persons may also bear the brunt of these policies as Energy bills are expected to hit sky. More burden on common persons in tougher times.
Indian scene is a bit different. India can’t do away with coal based power plants. But it can graduate to higher efficiency super critical sets which may reduce coal consumptions a wee bit. Government ambitious plans on solar power may see the solar PV pie increasing by a few percentage every year of 12th plan. In India Solar PV plants have installation costs in the range of about 1.6 MN USD per MW. CSP power projects are not very different. It is well established one unit of energy saved is two units of energy produced. Energy efficiency has lots to offer here. If we save one MW of energy through energy efficiency measures we avoid 2 MW of power plant capacity installation. Coal based power projects are considerable cheaper.
In India, there are ample coal reserves. But the exploration and productivity is far too less as compared to China. While India must continue to work on capacity addition programs in power sector but at the same time, India must ensure that targets taken up in 12th plan on “AVOIDED CAPACITY” of 12500 MW through Energy Efficiency must be met.