India's energy transition: the cost of meeting air pollution standards in the coal-fired electricity sector

In 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change legislated new standards to limit the concentration of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and mercury (Hg) in stack emissions for coal-fired power plants. The Ministry amended the standards in 2018; however, there was no material change in air pollution norms. Existing thermal generators were expected to comply by December 2017. For new plants, compliance was required at the point of commissioning from January 2017. However, by December 2017, almost no coal plants had installed the equipment and the deadline was extended to 2022. This brief extends the analysis in India’s Energy Transition, 2018 Update—a report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) on India's energy subsidies in financial year (FY) 2017 and FY 2018—to explore in detail the cost of compliance with regulations on air pollution and implicit subsidies associated with extensions and non-compliance.