Sep 14, 2021 - Energy & Environment

New coal-fired power projects dwindle worldwide

Recreated from E3G; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of new coal-fired power projects on the drawing boards globally has shrunk significantly amid a wave of cancellations in recent years, per the climate think tank E3G.

Driving the news: Planned projects have fallen by 76% since late 2015 when the Paris Agreement was struck as governments have endorsed new restrictions, the firm's new report states.

Why it matters: There's no pathway to meeting the Paris targets of limiting warming to 1.5°C — or at least below 2°C — without aggressive moves away from coal.

  • However, the IEA, in a July report, estimated that total global coal-fired generation is rebounding this year and may hit a record in 2022.

Yes, but: The E3G report says the shrinking project pipeline is "bringing the end of new coal power construction into sight."

  • But coal's hardly on a path consistent with steep emissions cuts needed to avoid letting the Paris goals slip completely out of reach.
  • A number of countries are still planning new projects that risk "locking in high emissions for several decades," E3G said.

By the numbers: China's pipeline has shrunk a lot, but it's still building a significant amount.

  • It accounts for 53% of the world's coal-fired capacity under construction and 55% of the pre-construction pipeline.
  • Add India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, and Bangladesh, and those nations along with China account for over 80% of the remaining pipeline.
  • Plans for new plants in the OECD and E.U. have "collapsed" since 2015 and existing coal generation is declining, with "with 56% of operating capacity either closed already since 2010 or scheduled to close by 2030."
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