G7 eyes possible end date for coal-fired power plants

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • What is G7?
  • What are Coal-fired power plants?
  • Why is the world turning against coal-fired power plants?
  • Phasing out coal-fired power plants and G7

Why in News?

Recently, G7 energy ministers discussed a possible time frame for phasing out coal-fired power plants. 

The G7 meeting in Turin (Italy) is the first big political session since the world pledged at the UN’s COP28 climate summit in December 2023 to transition away from coal, oil and gas.

What is G7?

  • Origin
    • The origin of G7 lies in the oil shocks of 1973 and the corresponding financial crisis.
    • In order to address the situation after oil shock, the heads of the world's six leading industrial nations decided to hold a meeting in 1975.
    • These six nations were - the US, UK, France, Germany (West), Japan and Italy.
    • These countries were joined by Canada in 1976 and G7 came into existence.
  • Current Members
    • US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan are the current members of this group.
    • It can be said that the members of this group are the most developed and the advanced economies of the world.
    • The European Union is also represented within the G7.
  • Purpose of G7
    • To determine the course of multilateral discourse 
    • To shape political responses to global challenges.
    • Basically, G7 provides a platform to discuss and coordinate solutions to major global issues, especially in the areas of trade, security, economics, and climate change.

What are Coal-fired power plants?

  • About
    • Coal-fired power plants, also known as coal-fired power stations, generate electricity by burning coal to produce steam. 
    • The steam is then piped into a turbine, which spins a generator to create electricity. 
    • The steam is then cooled, condensed back into water, and returned to the boiler to start the process over.
  • Emissions from coal-fired power plan
    • Several principal emissions result from coal combustion. These include:
      • Sulphur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain and respiratory illnesses
      • Nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses
      • Particulates, which contribute to smog, haze, and respiratory illnesses and lung disease
      • Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the primary greenhouse gas produced from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas)
      • Mercury and other heavy metals, which have been linked to both neurological and developmental damage in humans and other animals
      • Fly ash and bottom ash, which are residues created when power plants burn coal
  • Coal fired plants in India
    • At present, thermal power accounts for almost 60 per cent of India’s total installed power generation capacity.
    • It is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, gas, etc.
    • Currently, coal-fired power generation provides over 75% of the electricity supplied to the grid.
    • It has been the centrepiece of India’s energy ecosystem for several decades largely because it is the cheapest natural resource and is abundant in India.
  • Potential
    • India’s coal reserves are expected to last 100 years, compared to around 50 years for gas and about 16 years for oil. 
    • An expert group formed by NITI Aayog expects India’s coal-based power generation capacity to touch 250 gigawatts by 2030 from around 202 gigawatts currently.
    • According to the Draft National Electricity Plan 2022, coal’s share in the electricity generation mix will decrease to 50% by 2030, compared to the current contribution of 70%.

Why is the world turning against coal-fired power plants?

  • The 2018 report by the IPCC warned against climate changes in the coming decades. 
    • It stressed on severely limiting the operation of coal-fired power plants by 2050 to limit global warming. 
  • Coal-based power plants are also a significant contributor to pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

Phasing out coal-fired power plants and G7

  • Recently, energy and ecological transition ministers from the G7 met in Turin (Italy). They are close to committing to a common target of shutting down coal-fired power plants.
    • Italy holds the G7 rotating presidency this year.
  • The talks come as a new report by a global climate institute shows the G7 is falling far short of its targets.
  • This is significant as together the G7 makes up around 38 percent of the global economy and was responsible for 21 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021.

Q.1. What is IPCC?

IPCC stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific group that monitors and assesses global climate change for the United Nations. The IPCC was established in 1988 as part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

Q.2. What is Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP)?

In the three decades since the Rio Summit and the launch of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) has convened member countries every year to determine ambition and responsibilities, and identify and assess climate measures.

Source: G7 eyes possible end date for coal-fired power plants | Ministry of Coal | Hindustan Times | The Hindu Businessline