'Harnessing 10% of coal bed methane reserves can cut India's energy import bill by USD 2 billion'

If India harnesses 10 per cent of the coal bed methane reserves of 2,600 billion cubic meters, it can cut its energy imports bill by USD 2 billion, according to experts.
This assumes significance in view India’s coal production clocking record high during the last iscal year and plans afoot to increase it further.
As per the experts, the industry’s collective efforts in utilising Coal Bed Methane (CBM) can help the country save over USD 2 billion on imports bill in near future.
India has an estimated Coal Bed Methane Reserve of 2600 billion cubic metres, they say.
“India touched a record-high growth in coal production of more than 778.19 million tonne, posting record growth in coal production in the year 2022-23.
“Plan is to increase the production to over one billion tonne by 2025-26. Therefore, we collectively must tap and utilise Coal Bed Methane which in turn would help reduce emissions and also boost India’s energy security. Even if the industry can tap about 10 per cent of the reserves we can save over $2 billion by cutting on oil imports,” Dr J.S Sharma, Head of International Centre for Climate and Sustainability Action Foundation (ICCSA), told PTI.
Sharma said the savings would be more if we are able to tap more CBM reserves. Through ICSSA we have been making attempts in creating awareness about the potential of Methane and have conducted workshops for Oil & Gas, Agriculture & Livestock sectors.
Going forward the plan is to connect companies related to Coal, Transport and Waste management in order to share knowhow on Methane capture, he added.
Rakesh Kumar, Officer on Special Duty at Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) & an advisor at ICSSA told PTI, “Growth in coal production is directly proportional to the release of methane from mining activities.
“While India relies majorly on coal production from open cast mines, increasing production may require adoption of deeper mining of coal seams. If that is the case, utilisation of CMM could be one of the potential energy source and also has climate mitigation co-benefit”.
Over 56 per cent of India’s primary power production is supplied by coal, and this number is expected to grow with India’s population and increasing energy needs.
While India in its path towards building energy security by increasing energy production, methane sequestration and utilisation from coal mining activity can offer mutual benefit, Kumar added.
The prognosticated CBM resources in the country are about 2600 billion cubic meters (BCM) in 12 states of India.
To capitalise on the country’s CBM potential, the government enacted a CBM policy in 1997, which mandates the exploration and utilisation of CBM (natural gas).
Utilisation of coal mine methane has the potential to benefit India by reducing emissions and increasing domestic energy security.
Methane is the primary component of natural gas, which is responsible for the Earth’s warming. Methane (CH4) concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled since pre- industrial times. CH4 is the second-leading cause of climate change after carbon dioxide, rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius or likely 2 degrees Celsius.
Alternative fuels like Coal Bed Methane, Coal Mine Methane and alternative use of coal such as Coal to Chemicals are the thrust area of the Government.
Accordingly, a few companies have laid special emphasis on implementation of Clean Coal Technology across their business value chain. Methane emissions from Indian coal mines are estimated to be 45 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 equivalent emissions over 20 years, Kumar added.
Government efforts to reduce fossil fuel dependence and promote clean energy led to this growth in coal bed methane production. The government’s push for renewable energy, as well as initiatives like the National Clean Energy Fund, can help India achieve its carbon neutrality goal, said Dr Kumar.
(With inputs from PTI)
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