Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

China, India Led Slowdown in Coal Power Development, Study Says

  • 68 gigawatts of construction frozen in China, India in 2016
  • Greenpeace, Sierra Club study global coal development

China’s clampdown on new coal projects and a reluctance by backers to provide further funds in India are mainly responsible for last year’s drop in the amount of coal-powered generation capacity under development, environmental groups said in a report.

Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm found global pre-construction planning fell 48 percent and new construction starts dropped 62 percent last year compared with 2015, according to the report, titled “Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline.”

China last year imposed restrictions on further expansion of coal-power capacity amid increasingly low utilization rates at existing plants, according to the report. In India, the Ministry of Power said in June that the country had enough coal-fired plants to meet demand through 2019, while a draft National Energy Plan, released in December, said no further coal-power capacity beyond that currently under construction will be needed until at least 2027.

In China and India, 68 gigawatts of construction is frozen at more than 100 project sites, according to the report. The research also found that coal plant retirements are taking place at an unprecedented pace, with 64 gigawatts of retirements in the past two years, mainly in the European Union and the U.S.

Meanwhile, the report identified 10 “hot spot” countries including Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan, that have failed to develop their renewable-energy sectors in step with their peers while continuing to build and plan new coal plants.

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