Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s style is to set ambitious targets with impossible-looking deadlines. Perhaps he is inspired by a Gujarati poet who said, “Nishaan chuk maaf, nahi neechu nishaan” (missing the target can be forgiven, setting a low target cannot). This challenges his colleagues and staff to accomplish much more than what they would otherwise.

Thus Mr. Modi was able to get 24×7 electricity to nearly all villages in Gujarat in two and a half years. The targets set for power, coal, and renewable energy show the same determined approach: set up 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable capacity by 2022 and increase domestic coal production to 1,500 million tonnes (MT) by 2020 from 612.4 MT in 2014-15, the period during which India imported around 210 MT of coal.

Are these targets for coal and renewable energy consistent? How are we to achieve 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022? If 175 GW of renewable capacity comes on line, do we need 1,500 MT of coal? Read more