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India needs to attract more "clean coal" investment: Global coal body

NEW DELHI: India needs to do more to attract foreign investment in technologies that can cut emissions from burning coal, a global coaltrade association said on Friday, given that the fuel will be a main source of electricity in the country for decades. India, the world's second-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has set ambitious targets to raise the contribution of solar and wind power to its energy mix, though it has also said coal will maintain its dominance for at least the next 30 years due to its abundance and cost advantage. "India needs to step up and say we need support here," Benjamin Sporton, chief executive at World Coal Association, told reporters in New Delhi. "We would like to see the government potentially say, 'Look coal is going to be an important part of the economy for decades, and we need support to be reasonably self sufficient but also to get support for low emission coal technology that we need to use,'" Sporton said. India has already sought foreign funds to move towards "clean coal" - which can cut greenhouse gases emitted from burning coal by up to 30 percent - and Sporton said given India's resurgent demand for coal imports after two years of decline it needs to ask for financial support. Earlier this week, the chief coal analyst at Noble Resources, a unit of commodities trader Noble Group, said global thermal coal demand will outpace supply in 2018, leading to a strong market driven by rising consumption from top buyers India and China. Coal India, the world's largest coal miner, plans to increase its production to about one billion tonnes by 2022, but it has fallen short of its annual targets leading to higher imports by the country. Sporton said it was unclear whether the government's push for solar energy would result in sustainable projects given sharp falls in power tariffs. "It's now getting to the point where it's quite difficult to make money out of investing in solar," Sporton said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government aims to raise solar power generation capacity nearly 30 times to 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. India will need at least $125 billion to fund its plan to increase the share of renewable power supply in the energy mix, which is proving to be challenging. A coal ministry spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

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