Full Title: Boom and Bust 2019
Author(s): Christine Shearer, Neha Mathew-Shah, Lauri Myllyvirta, Aiqun Yu, and Ted Nace
Publisher(s): GLOBAL ENERGY MONITOR / SIERRA CLUB / GREENPEACE
Publication Date: 03/2019
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For the third year in a row, most leading indicators of coal power capacity growth declined in 2018, including construction starts,
pre-construction activity, and plant completions, according to the Global Coal Plant Tracker.
In China and India, which have accounted for 85% of new coal power capacity since 2005, the number of permits for new coal plants dropped to record lows. The level of coal plant retirements continued at a record pace, led primarily by the US, despite efforts by the Trump Administration to keep aging coal plants online.
The decline in most coal power growth indicators reflected an increasingly constrained political and economic climate for coal plant developers, including financial restrictions by over 100 institutions and coal phase-out plans in 31 countries. However, state-owned financial agencies in China, Japan, and South Korea have emerged as the largest sources of funding for coal plants outside their borders, respectively.
A glaring exception to the global decline in coal plant development was China, where an excess of permitting from 2014 to 2016 remains to be resolved. In 2018, satellite photos showed ongoing construction at a number of project sites previously reported as suspended under central government restrictions. A March 2019 report by the China Electricity Council proposed capping the country’s coal power at 1,300 gigawatts (GW) in 2030, signaling that the industry body representing China’s power sector is pushing for a large expansion of the country’s coal fleet. The change would allow hundreds of new coal plants to be added, including plants that had been suspended under central government restrictions.