Sunday, March 27, 2016

Asia Loses Its Appetite for Coal

Many hundreds of planned coal-fired power plants in Asia will probably be shelved as economies slow and climate change and air pollution worsen.

Investors are being warned to steer clear of coal because assets could be left stranded in the ground. (Image Credit: Alexander G) Click to Enlarge.
Asia, the world’s biggest coal market by far, is showing signs of turning its back on what is the most polluting of fuels, shelving or cancelling a large number of coal-fired power plant construction projects.

Four Asian countries – China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam – together account for about 75% of an estimated 2,457 coal-fired power stations at present planned or under construction around the world.

A study published by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a UK-based non-profit organisation, says a combination of factors – including slowing economic growth and a rapid growth in renewables – means that a large percentage of these plants will never be built.

That’s good news for people living in cities such as New Delhi and Beijing, where coal-burning power plants are major contributors to health-threatening levels of air pollution.

It’s also good news for the planet: the burning of coal accounts for nearly 50% of global energy-related carbon emissions and is a main driver of climate change

The ECIU says that in both India and China existing coal-fired power plants are under-utilized. In China – at present the world’s biggest coal producer and consumer – a faltering economy, over-optimistic projections of electricity demand and rapidly falling costs for renewable power are among the factors slowing coal demand

Scaleback likely
In India, the world’s second biggest coal consumer, severe infrastructure problems are one factor hampering full use of existing coal plants.

In both countries, says the study, this may make new plants progressively less profitable, and less attractive to investors.  Also, both countries are “massively expanding” renewable and nuclear generation.

Though both Vietnam and Indonesia have ambitious coal plant construction plans, the ECIU says these are likely to be scaled back in the years ahead.

After the global climate meeting in Paris late last year, Vietnam announced it was reviewing all new coal plant projects in order to implement “international agreements to cut emissions.” 

Indonesia remains focused on expanding its coal-fired power sector, though projects on Java – one of the most densely populated islands on earth – are meeting strong opposition from those worried about air pollution

Indonesia has also announced plans to source 23% of its energy from renewables by 2025 – up from 6% at present.

Read more at Asia Loses Its Appetite for Coal

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