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Coal India buys PV panels to reduce energy costs

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 18:36 -- Ruth Williams

India’s biggest coal miner, Coal India Ltd, is installing a 2MW photovoltaic facility at its plant in Sambalpur, northern India.

Somewhat ironically, Coal India cites rising energy prices for its commissioning of modular crystalline photovoltaic panels. The state-owned company says it wants to take advantage of the tariff-based incentives for solar photovoltaic-based power generation that were recently announced by the government.

Coal India told prospective project bidders that its planned move into solar power has come about following a realisation that coal reserves will not last forever. "India has an abundance of sunshine and the trend of depletion of fossil fuels is compelling energy planners to examine the feasibility of using renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and so on," the company said in a bid document.

Rival coal mining company Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd also plans to set up a similar PV project of 10 MW, growing to 25 MW.

RenewEconomy magazine said: "The most striking aspect of the decision is the company's own recognition that fossil fuels are depleting, and that solar is approaching grid parity."

Coal India provides more than 80% of India’s domestic coal supply.