On September 7, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center held a public discussion titled “India and the Economics of Coal” with Bruce Buckheit, Charles K. Ebinger, and via video-teleconference from India, Krishna Kumar Sharma.

India, with a population of over 1.2 billion, is heavily reliant on coal-generated power, with coal providing roughly 70 percent of the country’s electricity. However, domestic production has not been able to keep pace with demand. As a result, India is increasingly reliant on high-cost imports. In recent years, the debate on the financial risks associated with these trends, particularly those associated with imported coal, has intensified. What are the effects of India’s growing reliance on imports of coal, especially in light of the recent economic slowdown?  Can domestic production offset the need for imports?  How do the economics behind natural gas and alternative energy sources factor into this complex equation of supply and demand in global India? 

A discussion with 

Mr. Bruce Buckheit
Energy and Environment Consultant

Dr. Charles Ebinger
Senior Fellow and Director, Energy Security Initiative

Brookings Institution

Mr. Krishna Kumar Sharma
Chief of the Mundra Project
Tata Mundra

Moderated by

Mr. Shuja Nawaz
Director, South Asia Center
Atlantic Council 

Bruce Buckheit is an energy and environment consultant who provides technical and strategic advice to a broad range of corporations, state organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. He has served as senior counsel in the US Justice Department’s Environmental Enforcement Section, as Director of EPA’s Air Enforcement Division, and as a member of the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board. Mr. Buckheit is currently identifying legal and regulatory barriers to the development of wind power in the Mid-Atlantic States under subcontract to US Department of Energy and is involved in a broad array of energy and environment regulatory and policy issues in the United States, India, Kosovo, Turkey, and Armenia. 

Charles Ebinger has more than thirty-five years of experience specializing in international and domestic energy markets (oil, gas, coal and nuclear) and the geopolitics of energy, with a particular focus on the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic. Mr. Ebinger has served as an energy policy advisor to over 50 governments on restructuring their state-owned energy sectors, privatization and the creation of regulatory regimes. He was an adjunct professor of electricity economics at Johns Hopkins Nitze School and is one of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s “Nuclear Energy Experts.” 

Krishna Kumar Sharma is chief of the Mundra ultra mega power project (UMPP) in Gujarat, India. He is responsible for all aspects of plant management and leads a team of over 450 professionals. Mr. Sharma  has over thirty-five years of experience in power plant operation, maintenance, planning, and commissioning of coal and gas based units (sizes ranging from 62.5 megawatts to 800 megawatts). He has previously headed operations at two stations of the National Thermal Power Corporation in Talcher, Orissa and Farakka, West Bengal. He has also worked in the commissioning, operation, and maintenance of India’s first super thermal plant at Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh. He has a Bachelor of Technology from Pantnagar University and an MBA (finance) from Indira Gandhi National Open University.