India has just experienced its first year-on-year carbon reduction in over 40 years. This comes as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, economic slowdown, and increased renewable energy usage in the country.
During the month of March, there was a 15% decrease, while April saw a 30% decrease, which has led to clear skies in major cities.
The biggest factor for this reduction was the huge decrease in electricity usage. This ended up having a significant impact on the amount of coal being used around the country. In fact, March alone saw a 27% decrease in coal sales around the country.
Coal isn’t the only fossil fuel on the decline. Natural gas is expected to see a 15-20% decline as well. These decreases are thanks to the combination of the country embracing more renewable energy and decreasing electricity usage in factories.
Short Term Reduction
Unfortunately, the carbon reduction in India and around the globe is only temporary. Once the COVID-19 crisis is behind us and the lockdown ends, business will resume like usual. This means cars will be back on the road and factories will be consuming power.
One thing is clear, the coal reduction is having the biggest effect on emissions. It really highlights the fact that coal is one of the worst carbon emitters and needs to be retired as an energy source. Especially when cheaper renewable energy sources exist.
And this might become a reality in India.
A Shift Towards Renewable Energy
The government of India has suggested investing in renewable energy as a recovery step. Coal and oil are simply more expensive than solar energy and that gap will only widen with inflation. However, renewable energy is becoming cheaper as it is mass-produced and the technology is becoming more efficient.
A great example of this was a recent purchase of 2,000 Megawatts of solar energy. This costs 2.55-2.56 rupees per kilowatt-hour (Rs/kWh) versus 3.38 Rs/kWh for coal energy. That is a very big price difference, which means it is not only better for the planet, but better financially to switch to renewable energy.
Governments are starting to realize this. The rising coal costs and uncertainty of oil prices are making renewable sources look better every day.