coal power plant


A report emphasises that the world must accelerate the closure of coal power plants and halt the construction of new ones at a rate nearly five times the current pace to achieve the targets set by the Paris climate agreement. According to the San Francisco-based NGO Global Energy Monitor, insufficient progress is being made to avert “climate chaos,” especially with China’s plans to significantly increase its number of coal-fired plants, which would necessitate even more drastic cuts in coal capacity elsewhere to meet global climate goals.

To align with the Paris climate agreement, all coal power plants must be shut down by 2040, with no new ones being built. Developed economies are expected to retire their coal plants a decade earlier than the global phaseout, requiring the closure of 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal power capacity per year until 2030 among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This amount is about four-and-a-half times higher than the closures recorded last year. Non-OECD countries will need to close 91 GW of coal power capacity annually until 2040.

Although the global survey indicates a decline in the total capacity of existing and planned coal plants outside China last year, the phaseout has slowed compared to previous years. China, on the other hand, is poised to significantly expand its coal usage, with plans to construct enough new plants that would offset the retirements in the US and the EU combined from last year.

Flora Champenois, the lead author of the report and project manager for Global Energy Monitor’s global coal plant tracker, expressed concern about the lack of progress in transitioning away from coal. She stated, “At this rate, the transition away from existing and new coal isn’t happening fast enough to avoid climate chaos. The more new coal projects come online, the steeper the cuts and commitments need to be in the future.”

In 2022, the global coal power fleet expanded by 19.5 GW, with more than half of that growth occurring in China. China also plans to increase its coal power capacity by an additional 126 GW, which surpasses reductions made in developing countries.

While the United States led the world in retiring coal power by shutting down 13.5 GW of capacity last year, closures in the European Union (EU) slowed from 14.6 GW in 2021 to 2.2 GW in 2022. The decrease in closures was a response to the war in Ukraine, which drove up the cost of gas-fired power generation in the region.

Swift and decisive action is needed to accelerate the closure of coal power plants globally and shift towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. The report underscores the urgent need for countries to prioritise the transition away from coal in order to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change and meet the climate goals set in the Paris agreement.



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