The Coal India Ltd plans to set up 20,000 megawatts (MW) of solar projects over the next 10 years, a top executive said.
It is estimated that at a per-MW will cost around Rs 4.5 crore, Coal India will require an investment of around Rs 90,000 crore to set up this capacity.
"If you look beyond 2050, one priority is to reach over to renewable energy," said Coal India Chairman and Managing Director Gopal Singh, adding that the miner has the 40,000 hectares of land required to set up such a large solar capacity.
"Affordability is a big factor for us," he added.
The additional capacity will help India's clean energy commitments. India, one of the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US, plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by the year 2030, as a part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris during 2015.
India plans to achieve 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022. Of this 100GW is to come from the solar projects.
Coal India's diversification drive includes setting up of the coal-to-methanol projects and coal gasification projects. It also plans to fabricate the wastewater by distilling, processing and selling it to the Indian Railways.
In an another development, the state-run firm that accounts for 84% of India's primary fuel production, will register a 2.52% or 14 million tonnes (mt) increase in coal production for the current financial year to reach 568mt. Also, the quantum of coal dispatched during 2017-2018 is expected to reach 580.50mt as compared to 543.32mt in 2016-17.
"This year is going to be a milestone year," Singh said.
It comes in the backdrop of an unexpected surge in coal demand from power plants during August-September.
Surplus coal output in the wake of muted demand from power plants last financial year had resulted in coal stocks of around 68.4mt and forced the state monopoly to slow down production. This led to an unexpected shortage after demand picked up from power stations due to low nuclear and hydro-power generation.
"It is not the production that matters but the supply of coal that matters," Singh said, adding, "our bottom line depends on the off-take and dispatch."
"If we have so much of reserves, there shouldn't be a shortage," Singh remarked.
As part of its attempts to improve efficiency, Coal India has introduced a staggered weekly off for its 298,000 workforces since October last year. This, in turn, has ensured round-the-week operations.
Going forward, Coal India's strategy is to liquidate stocks. Also, the firm is set to implement the new pricing policy from April 1, wherein coal prices will be linked to quality with prices being calculated on every unit of gross calorific value (GCV) of coal rather than the grade.
In response to a query about the likely impact of the new pricing mechanism on Coal India's revenue, Singh said, "There will be an impact because our interest is not profiteering... As we have to compete with commercial miners, Coal India will have to transform completely."