For the second year in a row, all leading indicators of coal power capacity growth dropped steeply in 2017, including pre-construction planning, construction starts, and project completions, according to the Global Coal Plant Tracker report on Thursday.
Entitled Boom and Bust 2018 Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline, the report indicates that the decline was due primarily to central government restrictions in China and declining financial and policy support in India.The report also showed that capacity under development in the rest of the world also declined.
The report stressed that continuing the record pace of the past three years from 2015 to 2017, global retirements during 2017 exceeded 25,000 megawatts (MW).
"A 28 percent year-on-year drop in newly completed coal plants; and a 41 percent drop in the past in 2016 and 2017 were seen," according to the report.
In addition, there was a 22 percent year-on-year drop in pre-construction activity as well as a 59 percent drop during those same years.
The report recorded a 23 percent drop in construction activity and a 38 percent drop in 2016 and 2017.
A geographic narrowing of plant construction with only seven countries initiated construction at more than one location and a growing phase-out movement, supported by 34 countries and subnational entities were some of the key developments in 2017.
The report says that with declining deployment and high levels of retirement, coal power capacity is now caught in a squeeze: if current trends continue, by 2022 yearly retirements will exceed new capacity and the global coal fleet will begin to shrink.
Most of the 290 gigawatts (GW) of global coal plants 40 years of age and older are located in the United States, equal to 50 percent of the world share at 144 GW and the European Union takes a 20 percent share with 59 GW.
The Global Coal Plant Tracker is an online database that identifies, maps, describes, and categorizes every known coal-fired generating unit and every new unit proposed since Jan. 1, 2010 for 30 MW and larger. Developed by CoalSwarm, the tracker uses footnoted wiki pages to document each plant and is updated biannually.
By Gulsen Cagatay