The new IEA report shows why, absent tougher climate policies, coal will remain a huge player in global power markets despite its much publicized declines in the U.S. and Europe.
What they found: Project approvals for new coal-fired power plants have plummeted over the past half-decade, but additions of new capacity are still outpacing plant closures, and IEA sees that continuing in the 2020–2023 period, driven largely by China and India.
The big picture: "Net additions of coal-fired plants in 2019 rose for the first time in five years, driven by an uptick in newly commissioned plants in China and, to a lesser extent, in India," IEA notes.
What's next: Despite ongoing plant closures, the "large existing construction pipeline" means the global coal-fired power fleet is slated to continue expanding.
- IEA tallies 130 gigawatts worth of projects under construction slated to start operation between this year and 2023.
- That means additions are happening faster than retirements, leading to estimated net growth of roughly 40 gigawatts, IEA said.
One level deeper: The report says the pandemic could also influence future investment by state-owned power companies in developing nations.
- "There is a risk that some state actors fall back on familiar levers for economic development, pushing up coal use and emissions," IEA notes.