Reducing stranded assets through early action in the Indian power sector

Aman Malik*, Christoph Bertram, Jacques Despres, Johannes Emmerling, Shinichiro Fujimori, Amit Garg, Elmar Kriegler, Gunnar Luderer, Ritu Mathur, Mark Roelfsema, Swapnil Shekhar, Saritha Vishwanathan, Zoi Vrontisi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Cost-effective achievement of the Paris Agreement's long-term goals requires the unanimous phase-out of coal power generation by mid-century. However, continued investments in coal power plants will make this transition difficult. India is one of the major countries with significant under construction and planned increase in coal power capacity. To ascertain the likelihood and consequences of the continued expansion of coal power for India's future mitigation options, we use harmonised scenario results from national and global models along with projections from various government reports. Both these approaches estimate that coal capacity is expected to increase until 2030, along with rapid developments in wind and solar power. However, coal capacity stranding of the order of 133–237 GW needs to occur after 2030 if India were to pursue an ambitious climate policy in line with a well-below 2 °C target. Earlier policy strengthening starting after 2020 can reduce stranded assets (14–159 GW) but brings with it political economy and renewable expansion challenges. We conclude that a policy limiting coal plants to those under construction combined with higher solar targets could be politically feasible, prevent significant stranded capacity, and allow higher mitigation ambition in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number094091
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • carbon lock-in
  • coal
  • India
  • stranded assets
  • climate policy
  • Nationally determined contribution (NDC)


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