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Global Climate at Risk as Nearly 1,200 New Coal Plants Proposed Around the World

Climate

Kick Kennedy

[Editor's note: Maybe it's just coincidence that on the same day this report came out, the World Meteorological Organization released a report stating that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2011, and that between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30 percent increase in radiative forcing—the warming effect on our climate—because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases. With the below report analyzing information about proposed new coal-fired plants and other market trends in order to assess potential future risks to the global climate, it's distressing that our world leaders are unable to address the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions instead of increase them! It's also worth noting that the World Bank released a report this week, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, warning that if the global community fails to act on climate change, it will trigger a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people.]

The World Resources Institute (WRI) released a report today, Global Coal Risk Assessment, that analyzes information about proposed new coal-fired plants and other market trends in order to assess potential future risks to the global climate. The report finds that there are 1,199 new coal power plants in the works, totaling more than 1.4 million megawatts of capacity worldwide. That's four times the capacity of all the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Seventy-six percent of the coal plants are proposed for India and China, with the U.S. seventh in the world for coal power plants in development. We have thirty six on the table. Yikes.

According to the WRI, if all of these projects are built, it would add new coal power capacity that is almost four times the current capacity of all coal-fired plants in the U.S.

View the locations of proposed coal-fired power plants by country in this interactive map below.

Key Findings in today's assessment include:

  • According to International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates, global coal consumption reached 7,238 million tonnes in 2010. China accounted for 46 percent of consumption, followed by the U.S. (13 percent) and India (9 percent).

  • According to WRI’s estimates, 1,199 new coal-fired plants, with a total installed capacity of 1,401,278 megawatts (MW), are being proposed globally. These projects are spread across 59 countries. China and India together account for 76 percent of the proposed new coal power capacities.

  • New coal-fired plants have been proposed in 10 developing countries: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Laos, Morocco, Namibia, Oman, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. Currently, there is limited or no capacity for domestic coal production in any of these countries.

  • Our analysis found that 483 power companies have proposed new coal-fired plants. With 66 proposed projects, Huaneng (Chinese) has proposed the most, followed by Guodian (Chinese) and NTPC (Indian).

  • The “Big Five” Chinese power companies (Datang, Huaneng, Guodian, Huadian and China Power Investment) are the world’s biggest coal-fired power producers, and are among the top developers of proposed new coal-fired plants.

  • State-owned power companies play a dominant role in proposing new coal-fired plant projects in China, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Czech Republic and many other countries.

  • Chinese, German and Indian power companies are notably increasingly active in transnational coal-fired project development.

  • According to IEA estimates, the global coal trade rose by 13.4 percent in 2010, reaching 1,083 million tonnes.

  • The demands of the global coal trade have shifted from the Atlantic market (driven by Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the U.S.) to the Pacific market (driven by Japan, China, South Korea, India and Taiwan). In response to this trend, many new infrastructure development projects have been proposed.

  • Motivated by the growing Pacific market, Australia is proposing to increase new mine and new port capacity up to 900 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa)—three times its current coal export capacity.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE and COAL pages for more related news on this topic. 

 

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