For the first time in four decades, the emissions of toxic carbon dioxide have declined in the country - thanks to an economic slowdown, growth of clean energy and the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the past year, India had already witnessed a weakening of the demand for thermal energy production due to lower demand and competition from renewable energies. Weeks of lockdown have eased India's chronic air pollution, raising hopes of a more sustainable solution.
By studying daily data from the Indian national grid, analysts found that coal-fired energy production decreased by 15% in March and 31% in the first three weeks of April, while renewable energy production increased by 6.4 % in March and 1.4% in April.
CREA researchers say that demand for coal began to decrease even before the lockdown.
The researchers say that the longer-term outlook for India's emissions will be shaped, to a significant degree, by the government response to the crisis.
The report claims that new solar capacity can cost as little 2.55 INR (Dh0.12) per kilowatt hour, while the average cost for electricity generated from coal is 3.38 INR (Dh0.16) per hour. It has declined by 10% since then.
According to data released in April by the International Energy Agency, worldwide coal consumption has decreased by 8%. The already-slow demand in growth of oil consumption fell by 18% this March, compared to the previous year. Consumption of natural gas, which increased by 5.5% in the first 11 months of the fiscal year, is expected to fall by 15-20% during the lockdown. During this period, crude oil production also fell by 5.9% and refinery production by 1.1%. The decline was also observed in India in 1970, 1974, 1980 and 1984. But compared to this year's shortfall, it was minimal.
It is unclear whether the country will be able to support these environmental improvements after it reopens.