India's coal reserves to run out in 45 years

New Delhi: Debunking a myth that India had usable coal reserves that would last 200 years, a report from a non-government energy think tank says the country is likely to run out of usable coal reserves in about 45 years.

Pointing out that the government itself has downgraded its estimation of useful coal resources to about four decades, the report on India's energy security from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, stresses the need for new policy initiatives on renewable energy.

 ''It's a myth that India has a virtually unlimited supply of coal,'' said Rajendra Pachauri, director-general of TERI. ''Much of our coal is so deep that it cannot be mined. We have been fed exaggerated figures.''

So far, estimates from geological studies have suggested that India had about 267 billion tonnes of coal, including 105 billion tonnes of proven reserves. Such estimates gave rise to expectations that reserves would last for more than a century, if not double that.

The issue assumes importance as currently this fossil fuel provides about 60 per cent of the country's total energy requirements.

According to the report, the country's import of coal is likely to rise in the coming years, touching about 1,300 million tonnes per year by 2030, if initiatives are not launched to reduce the country's dependence on coal. It suggests import levels could be restricted to 200 million tonnes per annum if initiatives on renewable energy are launched in time.