Boom and Bust 2016

TRACKING THE GLOBAL COAL PLANT PIPELINE

Publication - 2016-04-06
The world has too many coal-fired power plants, yet the power industry continues to build more. While the amount of electricity generated from coal has declined for two years in a row, the industry has ignored this trend and continues to build new coal-fired generating plants at a rapid pace, creating an increasingly severe capacity bubble. The problem of overbuilding is especially severe in China, where the average coal plant is now run less than half the time and the government recently announced plans to halt new coal plant approvals. Worldwide, 338 GW of new coal capacity is in construction and 1,086 GW is in various stages of planning—the equivalent of 1,500 coal plants. The amount of capital potentially wasted on these plants amounts to US$981 billion, or close to one trillion dollars. Meanwhile, as clean, renewable energy becomes more affordable and more accessible, the amount of capital wasted on these unneeded plants will be one and a half times the amount the International Energy Agency estimates could provide electricity to the 1.2 billion people who need it worldwide. This report provides the results of the survey completed in January 2016 by the Global Coal Plant Tracker.

The world has too many coal-fired power plants, yet the power industry continues to build more. While the amount of electricity generated from coal has declined for two years in a row, the industry has ignored this trend and continues to build new coal-fired generating plants at a rapid pace, creating an increasingly severe capacity bubble.

The problem of overbuilding is especially severe in China, where the average coal plant is now run less than half the time and the government recently announced plans to halt new coal plant approvals. Worldwide, 338 GW of new coal capacity is in construction and 1,086 GW is in various stages of planning—the equivalent of 1,500 coal plants. The amount of capital potentially wasted on these plants amounts to US$981 billion, or close to one trillion dollars.

Meanwhile, as clean, renewable energy becomes more affordable and more accessible, the amount of capital wasted on these unneeded plants will be one and a half times the amount the International Energy Agency estimates could provide electricity to the 1.2 billion people who need it worldwide. This report provides the results of the survey completed
in January 2016 by the Global Coal Plant Tracker.

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