India has cancelled plans for 13.7 gigawatts of coal-fired power supply, roughly equivalent to the UK’s entire coal-fired power generation. Analyst Tim Buckley explained that, “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound.”
As the third largest producer and consumer of energy, and with the fifth largest supply of coal in the world, India’s power generation mix carries global environmental and economic ramifications. Solar power triumphing over coal-fired power generation for contracts to supply India’s power will not only drive down solar costs elsewhere, but also replace the most harmful form of energy production with one of the least harmful, in terms of both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Like India, many of the world’s coal-rich countries are also vast consumers of energy. Could solar energy generation becoming cheaper than coal in a coal-rich country spell the end for the carbon rocks? Will India’s plummeting solar prices accelerate solar investments domestically and elsewhere by proving economic viability at scale?