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"Cleaner Power in India: Towards a Clean-Coal-Technology Roadmap"

A coal wagon sits at the railway station in Varanasi, India.
Carsten Karl

"Cleaner Power in India: Towards a Clean-Coal-Technology Roadmap"

Discussion Paper, Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center

Winter 2007/08

Authors: Ananth Chikkatur, Former Associate, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, Ambuj D. Sagar, Visiting Scholar, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



Coal-based power has become a key element of India’s energy sector.  As the country’s energy and power needs continue to grow, the role of coal will remain undiminished for at least the next few decades.  Yet, there are a number of challenges facing the coal-power sector, and there are several constraints that will affect its trajectory.  There is now a broad and evolving array of technology options for the coal power generation, unlike in the past when subcritical pulverized coal combustion was the dominant technology of choice.  There are also varying concerns about the applicability of these emerging technologies for the Indian context.  Thus, it is important for India to engage in an in-depth analysis of technology issues as well as strategic planning to allow for appropriate development of the coal-power sector.

Motivated by these considerations, this work has outlined the interlinkages between technology innovation and public policy, and highlighted the need for a technology roadmapping process as a tool to help determine appropriate policies in the sector.  It then assesses relevant technology options in order to derive an illustrative technology roadmap and the requisite policy elements.  Our analytical framework helps delineate the kinds of questions that need to be addressed, as well as our view of what the answers to some of these questions are. 

However, this work should be viewed as a stepping-stone for a more comprehensive assessment that needs to be undertaken by the Indian government, preferably lead by the Planning Commission and with buy-in from policy-makers and key stakeholders.  Appropriate processes for developing consensus-based solutions need to be put in place, under the imprimatur of the government and with wide stakeholder participation, with the aim of developing a robust technology policy and a suitable domestic innovation strategy for the future of India’s coal-power sector.


pdf Download a three-page executive summary of the paper (22 KB PDF).


For more information about this publication please contact the ETIP Coordinator at 617-496-5584.

For Academic Citation:

Chikkatur, Ananth P. and Ambuj D. Sagar. "Cleaner Power in India: Towards a Clean-Coal-Technology Roadmap." Discussion Paper, Energy Technology Innovation Policy Project, Belfer Center, Winter 2007/08.

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