Climate Concerned India’s Coal Imports Surging

India coal imports
Indian coal imports surging. source Indian Central Electricity Authority

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t ResourceGuy; despite a recent survey which suggested India is more concerned about climate change than most countries, Prime Minister Modi‘s determination to extend the electric grid to poor people, coupled with a drop in domestic production, appears to be driving a surge in demand for coal imports.

Coal imports by Indian power plants are growing at the fastest rate in five years

Kuwar Singh
Quartz September 18, 2019

Indian power plants’ appetite for imported coal is on the rise again.
The country’s electricity generating firms are expected to import up to 74 million tonnes of the fossil fuel in the current financial year ending March 2020, according to India Ratings and Research. The Mumbai-based ratings firm released its mid-year power outlook yesterday (Sept. 17).

Coal imports to produce electricity have already risen by five million tonnes year-on-year in the April-July period, at the end of which they stood at a total 23 million tonnes. In the rest of the fiscal year, they are expected to increase by another 10-12 million tonnes over their previous levels, said Vivek Jain, director at India Ratings. This would result in an annual growth of over 19%, the highest in at least five years.

Low domestic production

Though weak sales of automobiles and consumer goods have impacted industrial demand for electricity, rapid electrification of rural households by the government has ensured that the overall demand for power remains healthy, the outlook said. In the April-July period, national electricity demand grew 6.7% year-on-year.

Read more:

As India catches up with China, and China spreads prosperity throughout Central Asia via its coal belching belt and road initiative, any emission cuts Western governments make will be utterly inconsequential.

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Joel O'Bryan
September 18, 2019 10:08 pm

China’s “coal belching belt and road initiative” (BRI) is far more about creating a debt-trap for resource-rich 3rd World countries (that Chinese companies can then exploit) than it is Chinese benevolence (which is an oxymoron).

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 18, 2019 11:55 pm

It’s just business. The west does it, China does it. So what. Someone has to bring investment money etc. to get the ball rolling as far as all these third world countries are concerned. Do you resent people making a profit?

Reply to  Alex
September 19, 2019 6:57 am

Chinese attempt in the Caribbean are mixed. Some island countries have foun themselves tied to Chinese debt over infrastructure projects with no way out. Others have rejected the offers, having recognized the trap of perpetual spiraling debt.

Reply to  Alex
September 19, 2019 7:52 am

Alex, I agree. Lest we fall too far into hypocrisy, it should be remembered that what china is doing to developing countries (making them dependent on inexpensive energy and all of the modern conveniences it affords) is exactly what the US did (and still does).
We wrote the playbook. China is merely updating it.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
September 19, 2019 11:51 am

As someone who grew up in Pakistan, and had to suffer through power outages (load shedding) in 100+ degrees, I am so glad that China is financing coal and nuclear plants in the country. I am sure the alarmists in California will learn soon how miserable life can be without reliable electricity.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
September 19, 2019 4:10 pm

“making them dependent on inexpensive energy and all of the modern conveniences it affords”

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

Reply to  MarkW
September 19, 2019 5:01 pm

If they can supply it themselves, it is a very GOOD thing.
My thoughts run to supplying developing nations with systems/technology they cannot operate nor maintain without substantial foreign assistance which never comes without strings. TAANSTAFL
It seems imperialistic to get them hooked and then exploit their weaknesses. It would be better that they should be taught how to fish and not fed fish … at the feeders pleasure.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 19, 2019 3:42 am

Guess who is the the biggest exporter of Capitalism to Africa?……………………China! Who’d a thunk it?

R Taylor
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 19, 2019 5:27 am

Will China play local politics any better than previous imperialists? If not, things won’t turn out any better for China.

Reply to  R Taylor
September 19, 2019 5:57 am

Don’t live in the past. The ability of a state to command and control another is much multiplied in the modern age.

September 18, 2019 10:41 pm

India may well be more concerned about ‘Climate Change’ than most countries but Prime Minister Modi does not see that stance as in any way related to or counter to India’s need to extend the electric grid to poor people and relieve their troubling poverty. If domestic coal production drops off, a surge in demand for imported coal is a logical sequitur. People can then be concerned about ‘Climate Change’ in the comfort of their own electrified homes.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
September 19, 2019 12:05 am

Nicely put.

Robert of Texas
September 18, 2019 10:41 pm

I am not a fan of coal burning unless it has a lot of pollution controls around it. Coal is really, really dirty. But given the right technologies it is a great source of heat (and therefore power). It certainly is cheap if you don’t mind the pollution.

If you want to understand why the Himalaya Glaciers are melting (most anyway), look no further than black soot from burning coal.

Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Robert of Texas
September 18, 2019 11:48 pm

Robert of Texas,

There is no significant pollution from modern coal-fired power stations that are correctly operated. And the Himalayan glaciers have been intermittently reducing for the ~12,000 years since the end of the last ice age.

Your attempt at concern trolling fails because your both your ‘concern’ are falsehoods.


Patrick MJD
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
September 19, 2019 2:50 am

Good to see you back commenting Richard.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Patrick MJD
September 19, 2019 3:45 am

Hear, hear!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
September 19, 2019 7:55 am

Wouldn’t that be:
“Hear, here.” 🙂

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Richard S Courtney
September 19, 2019 6:44 am


Happy to see you contributing here again. Can you comment on the pollution controls on the recent and planned Chinese and Indian coal plants? How do they compare to what would be permitted in the US or UK?


Richard S Courtney
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
September 19, 2019 7:54 am

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7,

Thanks to you and others for your kind comments.

I am retired and I now have very limited abilities, so I cannot answer your question because I lack sufficient knowledge of legislation and its enforcement in China and India today. Sorry.


Reply to  Richard S Courtney
September 19, 2019 1:05 pm

My only problem is that I don’t think either the Chinese or Indians are building to the “modern” standards you and I would consider to be even minimally acceptable.

Reply to  TomB
September 19, 2019 4:11 pm

They are building what they can afford. As they get richer, they will build better.
As we did.

Reply to  Richard S Courtney
September 20, 2019 1:16 am

Who said the power plants belching soot on the Himalayas were modern or correctly operated? We’re talking about South Asia here.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Robert of Texas
September 19, 2019 10:07 am

@ Robert of Texas

If you want to understand why the Himalaya Glaciers are melting (most anyway), look no further than black soot from burning coal.

That is one hellva waste of money …… when the operators are too lazy to correctly adjust the “air intake” dampers on the boilers or the speed of the ‘coal feed’ screws.

September 18, 2019 11:01 pm

So all of the tax we pay to drive cars, is a scam, as the western world can not run on 100% wind/solar power. In the uk people are suing solar panel firms already due to the lack return and power generated.. If solar panels can’t even power a small home, how can these green crackheads expect them to power great cities??

Reply to  Sunny
September 19, 2019 8:00 am

Hopefully some of the taxes you pay to operate an automobile are used to improve and maintain the infrastructure for the automobiles (roads, bridges, etc.)

Sunny, it is even worse: a solar panel working its entire lifetime cannot produce enough energy to reproduce a copy of itself.

September 18, 2019 11:08 pm

All for Modi improving the lives of his fellow Indians, but it is a bit cheeky of him to head off for the UN’s latest conference demanding billions from developed nations who have done the same for their own people. Meanwhile Australia and other coal users/exporters are banned by the UN from contributing to any debate on climate change so the Indians and Chinese can make outrageous demands without opposition.

September 19, 2019 12:01 am

… despite a recent survey which suggested India is more concerned about climate change than most countries, …

Mike Menlo commented on how the poll is done. link

There is an excellent chance that the poll is not representative of Indian public opinion. As far as I can tell, the Indian Green Party doesn’t have a lot of support. link

Reply to  commieBob
September 19, 2019 7:54 am

How hard would it be to misrepresent global climate change with local pollution and living conditions?

September 19, 2019 12:06 am

London was heavily polluted 100-120 year ago, U.S. was polluted 70 years ago. Let India develop and we can expect India to have Clean Air say 20 years from now. All the Nations have developed using Dirty Fuel. What the Developed Countries could do is give Clean Coal Technology free instead of other Aids which U.N. has promised and expects from the Developed Countries. All these so called International Aids are just window dressing and does not fulfill the intended objects or reach the intended recipients.

As an Indian I do not want my Country to get any Climate Change funds from Developed Countries, but at the same time my Country’s Development should not suffer under the name of CARBON pollution. CO2 is food for Forest & Agriculture and has incorrectly been made out to be a villain by Climate Alarmists.

Reply to  Ashok Patel
September 20, 2019 2:59 pm

Go nuclear with thorium. India has one of the world’s largest supplies. Use Molten Salt Thorium Reactors. China has announced it is about to turn on a very modest 2 megawatt prototype thorium molten salt reactor in the next few months. China took the plans from the molten salt reactor we developed in the sixties at Oak Ridge and applied the thorium cycle to it (which was going to be Oak Ridge’s next project before it was defunded).

China has been working on the project for 8 years with a start target of 2020 and it looks like they are going to make it. Molten Salt reactors will compete with the cost of coal produced energy because the coolant stays liquid for 1000C and does not need pressurization. Safety is greatly enhanced since the fuel is also a liquid in the molten salt and freezes up when the salt freezes up at shutdown.

These two speakers are long time speakers at the annual thorium energy alliance and this is from a talk they gave in August. Start about the 17 minute mark.

Gary K.
September 19, 2019 12:31 am

Modi told the Paris conclave that he was first and foremost going to pull his people out of poverty, and if that offended any sensibilities, then so be it. Just by-the-by, India has ordered another 6 nukes fom Rosatom to further boost electricity supplies.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Gary K.
September 19, 2019 4:18 am

“Modi told the Paris conclave that he was first and foremost going to pull his people out of poverty, and if that offended any sensibilities, then so be it.”

Good for him, and India.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 20, 2019 1:20 am

Is it too late for Modi to run for office in Canada?

September 19, 2019 12:51 am

India should be more concerned about its Call Centre Scamming industry, dragging the good name of India through the mud. I get daily calls from them, all following the same script, get me to look at the Windows Event Log, which has routine events, but with names like Error and Warning. They then try to gain control of your computer via free legitimate remote access software products such as Team Viewer or Any Desk. At best you will end up paying hundreds of dollars for nothing, at worst your computer will be trashed or infected with malicious software, and your details sold to other criminals.

Reply to  climanrecon
September 19, 2019 1:38 am

The basic rule is, if you don’t recognize the voice, and the caller has an Indian accent, hang up immediately and block the originating number they have spoofed. Life is too short.

Coeur de Lion
September 19, 2019 12:54 am

The Left hates little brown people and would rather see them die young

September 19, 2019 1:35 am

Thing is, there are very valid reasons for reducing particulate and NO2 air pollution, which have nothing to do with CO2.

If electric cars were to emit more than ICE, we should probably still go to them in cities. If low emission coal plants were to emit more CO2 than dirty ones, we should definitely still go to them.

One of the terrible things about the current CO2 mania is that its gone in the reverse direction. As when really harmfullly polluting diesel engines were favored in Europe because while they emit more particulates and more noxious gases, they emit less CO2.

This was completely mad. And I know there are those here who think diesels are just fine, to which one can only say, stand on the sidewalk in Oxford St for a few hours, and see if you still think so. You won’t.

It was so totally ridiculous that after the smog disasters of the 1950s London went to relatively clean air by only allowing the burning of smokeless fuel, and by the large scale introduction of gas fired central heating. Only to replace the particulates from coal burning by particulates from diesels…. Insane.

Reply to  michel
September 19, 2019 1:55 am

Michel, I am from London, and the smell from diesel cars and buses is utterly nasty! Oxford street, regents street or any other side road around any busy london street, and it stinks of fumes… The problem is their are sooooo many flats in london (inside the m25) that the amount of people has gone through the roof… But a lot of the 500k for a one bed room flat are still empty, and they offer “part” buy or trade your old flat/house lol

September 19, 2019 1:46 am

Like China , India’s ‘concern’ exist only when they are required to do nothing , leaving that to other ‘suckers’
So this is no surprise at all.

September 19, 2019 4:13 am

India should be worried about its coal imports, they’re bad for the balance of payments.

Reply to  commieBob
September 19, 2019 6:19 am

That misguided assessment has been their problem for generations in their ultra protectionist policies. It also got them to this point with domestic, government coal falling short and holding back the country.

David L Hagen
September 19, 2019 5:19 am

China is pursuing the realistic global target of raising people out of poverty
China’s power industry calls for hundreds of new coal power plants by 2030

Under the proposal, the country could add a large coal power plant every 2 weeks for the next 12 years. The largest power producers in China have asked the government to allow for the development of between 300 and 500 new coal power plants by 2030 in a move that could single-handedly jeopardise global climate change targets.
In its review of the government’s five-year-plan, China Electricity Council (CEC) – the influential industry body representing China’s power industry – recommended adopting a ‘cap’ for coal power capacity by 2030 — but the 1300GW limit proposed is 290GW higher than current capacity. The target is for the country’s coal-fired capacity to continue to grow until peaking in 2030.
The cap would enable China to build 2 large coal power stations a month for the next 12 years, and grow the country’s capacity by an amount nearly twice the size of Europe’s total coal capacity. . . .

Reply to  David L Hagen
September 19, 2019 8:31 am

David l hagen… LOLOL just as europe and the usa has killed its factories and other important job industries… Now it wants to kill everything else because of “climate change”, which includes not having pets… But china, Australia, india, japan, africa Mexico and all of the southern american countries can do as they please… I suppose the uk, Europe and usa will have perfect weather due to a lack of co2 while the rest of the world freezes or burns

September 19, 2019 7:02 am

Didn’t griff assure us that India has forsworn coal?

Reply to  MarkW
September 19, 2019 9:00 am

That was only in troll reality of the 25th dimension, or 24th.

Dan J. Cody
September 19, 2019 9:27 am

Did you hear about the new restaurant that opened in India?
It’s a New Delhicatessen.

Roger Knights
September 19, 2019 10:50 am

I remember reading a few years back that Indian coal producers were refusing to “float” their coal, so that stones would drop out, with the result that customers were getting an unsatisfactory product. Could the shift to foreign sources be partly motivated by this?

September 19, 2019 11:18 am

If one looks at the survey I would be wary about assuming that a very small number ( perhaps as few as a 100 or less could be representative of 1 billion plus people. With still 25 % of the population struggling to have electricity I suspect that the real figure for the Indian populations belief in climate change is a fraction of the quoted figure of the survey of 70% + . In fact the survey which showed India on top and Greta Thunbergs Sweden near the bottom is surely totally inaccurate. Your logical instinct on these matters tells you otherwise.

September 19, 2019 5:01 pm

Could I remind you of how the present impasse between Developed and Developing Countries arose by quoting from Rupert Darwall’s “The Age of Global Warming: A History.”
This will explain why there is a chasm between the two Groups which will never be overcome and which guarantees the failure of Kyoto, Copenhagen,Paris and similar Agreements.
“In June 1971, (Maurice) Strong held a week long seminar at Founex, fifteen minutes drive from Geneva Airport….’It had a profound influence on the Stockholm Conference (1972) and on the evolution of the environmental-development relationship .Founex produced a three part deal which gave developing countries what they sought.In turn it gave Strong what he wanted- the presence of the Third World Countries at the Stockholm Conference.
The First part was the assumption that the Third World would not emulate the developed world’s path to industrialisation, expressed as a non-binding aspiration on the part of the Third World.Developing Countries would ‘wish’ to avoid the patterns of development of industrialised countries.
The second related to national sovereignty…Where environmental objectives conflict with development objectives, each country had the right to decide the trade off for itself.
The Third part was about money.’If the concern for human environment reinforces the commitment to development, it must also reinforce the commitment to international aid.
It should provide a stimulus for providing the flow of resources from the advanced to the developing countries.’ “
At that time, Global Warming was not considered the main threat to mankind’s survival. The worries then were environmental degradation, nuclear mishaps etc. But the pattern was set.
It remains after the inception of the UN IPCC.
“The Founex deal was packaged in a formula containing a contradiction that remains to this day.The environmental problems of developed countries are caused by too much development but the Third World’s are caused by too little.
There is a political compromise which lacks internal consistency or empirical validation. But its second half contains an important truth. As nations get wealthier they can afford to spend more and place a higher value on a clean environment……As a political formula, Founex did the trick.”
Now, after Copenhagen and Paris, the inescapable clash between CAGW and the economic priorities of developing countries is plain for all to see.
There will be no effective World Carbon Treaty, because the game rules are set and none of the 165 developing countries are going to cede their innately superior position. They will however be responsible for more and more greenhouse gas emissions even now outstripping outstripping developed countries.

September 19, 2019 5:26 pm

Sunny Sept. 18 says it all. This idea that for example a country can send its
heavy manufacturing offshore, then receive the goods back from China
or India and then say how Green they arere, is ridiculous. The so called
“”Emissions” should be calculated on the goods received and consumed by
the countries such as Europe.

Australia is Guilty in the same way, we send vast amounts of coal to the likes
of India and China, ands somehow seem to think that because its being burned
North of the Equator, then that’s OK, its not our CO2 emissions.

Of course we then receive lots of goods from both countries and that is not
counted as our CO2 emissions.

Yo make it even sillier we here in Australia seem to think that Coal is a
terrible thing, oh the horror of all that compressed dirty CO2 in each limp of
the stuff.. And of course we are trying to close down our few remaining
Coal Fired power stations.

The World has indeed gone quite Mad.


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