Energy

Study: Coal plant development in "freefall"

Study: Coal plant development ...
The authors report a record number of coal plant retirements in the last two years
The authors report a record number of coal plant retirements in the last two years
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The authors report a record number of coal plant retirements in the last two years
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The authors report a record number of coal plant retirements in the last two years

Worldwide changes have prompted a big drop in the development of coal-fired power plants, a new study from several environmental groups has found. Shifts in policy and economic conditions in China and India are central to the decline, says the report, which describes a 48-percent drop in overall pre-construction activity.

The report, titled Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline, takes a survey of the global coal industry and is the third such study undertaken by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and research collaborative CoalSwarm. The report says that the slowing of coal-plant construction brings the 2° C (3.6° F) temperature rise targeted as part of the Paris Agreement within the realms of possibility.

In January 2017, the amount of coal power capacity in pre-construction phase amounted to 570 GW, a huge drop from the 1,090 GW in January 2016. Further to finding that pre-construction activity – such as plant planning and design – had almost halved, it found that construction starts over the same time frame had dropped by 62 percent.

The authors, who describe coal plant development as being in "freefall," point to a tightening up on new projects in China as one of the key reasons, where permits for new coal plants declined by 85 percent. Financial retrenchment by coal plant backers in India also played a key role, with construction in both China and India now halted at more than 100 coal plant sites.

What's more, the authors report a record number of coal plant retirements in the last two years. This amounted to 64 GW of coal capacity shutdown, mostly in Europe and the US, though the researchers say meeting the Paris Agreement would require the current pace of retirements to double. But still, the decline in coal capacity paired with the rise in the capacity of renewable energy has the researchers feeling optimistic.

"This has been a messy year, and an unusual one," said Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm. "It's not normal to see construction frozen at scores of locations, but central authorities in China and bankers in India have come to recognize overbuilding of coal plants as a major waste of resources. However abrupt, the shift from fossil fuels to clean sources in the power sector is a positive one for health, climate security, and jobs. And by all indications, the shift is unstoppable."

You can read the full report here.

Source: Sierra Club

7 comments
LordInsidious
Well that is good news.
LarryWolf
Trump will try his best to reverse this course. Of course.
Anne Ominous
This is very misleading.
A "48-percent drop in overall pre-construction activity" doesn't mean what it sounds like it means. It simply means fewer new plants are being designed. It doesn't mean fewer are being built.
After claiming they were going to significantly cut back their INCREASE in coal plant building, China changed its mind and has reconsidered its planned reduction. They still plan to build something like 120 or maybe 150 new plants over the next decade or so.
Coal mines in the U.S. have opened again. While that doesn't mean new plants -- yet -- it likely will.
WilliamSager
It's simple logistics. Fracking has increased the amount of natural gas which can be piped to a modern combined cycle gas turbines can be powered by nothing more then a pipe from the fields to the plant and leaves no waste. Coal plants on the other hand require vast mines along with long coal trains to the plant at which point the coal must be cleaned and crushed before it can be burned.Then in addition to the soot and extra CO2 you need to dispose of the coal dust.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
China and India will use whatever is cheapest. Lucky me, I have mostly coal fired KCPL at ten cents per kilowatt hour!
StWils
Great News, quit whining about the details. Now, if only this can dampen CO2 emissions enough to outrun CO2 emissions from thawing permafrost! Decaying organic material that had been frozen for centuries is now producing lots of methane and CO2. Potentially these gas emissions will rapidly and greatly exceed all other methane & CO2 sources. Additionally the IQ & Information Challenged Braying Jackass in DC, as well as his staff & Russian sponsors will only see this increase as an affirmation that the planet needs more CO2 airborne, not less. While it is great that the Chinese & Indians are catching on to global warming and air quality issues we still have curb these problems at a faster rate to maybe outrun the evolving damage from gases already in the atmosphere.
JimFox
Douglas Bennett Rogers I have a friend just like you who ALWAYS reduces everything he reads to HIS personal level & circumstances. Guess what- WHO CARES ABOUT HIM OR YOU!! Coal is dying- rapidly. China's cities are choking whilst growing bigger. Coal is a VERY short-term answer. Soon you'll be chopping wood to fuel your power needs!