Coal Plant Retirements In The U.S. and EU Offset the Coal Plant Boom In 2020 by China

7th Annual Boom & Bust Report 2021

Posted : 06 April, 2021
Author : Dr. Seema Javed
Coal Plant Retirements In The U.S. and EU Offset the Coal Plant Boom In 2020 by China

China commissioned 38.4 GW of new coal plants in 2020, comprising 76% of the global total (50.3 GW). Making China a home to 85% of the 87.4 gigawatts (GW) of proposed new coal plants in 2020.

While coal plant retirements during Trump’s four-year term rose to 52.4 GW, from the coal plant retirements of  48.9 GW during Obama’s second term. Now the Biden Administration has called for the U.S. power sector to be decarbonized by 2035. A third of currently operating coal power976.6 GW of 233.6 GW) is currently scheduled for retirement by 2035.

In Europe Union (EU27) retirements of coal power plants rose to a record 10.1 GW in 2020 from 6.1 GW in 2019. EU27 retirements were led by Spain, which retired half of its coal fleet (4.8 GW of 9.6 GW). Commissioning of new plants fell to 50.3 GW in 2020, a decline of 34% from 2019, as projects in development struggled to obtain financing and many projects were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic there.

In India, coal power capacity rose by just 0.7 GW in 2020, with 2.0 GW commissioned and 1.3 GW retired.

A steep increase in coal plant development in China offset a retreat from coal in the rest of the world in 2020. . Resulting in the first increase in global coal capacity development since 2015. But a record-of 37.8 GW of coal plants were retired in 2020 (U.S. retired 11.3 GW and EU27 retired  10.1 GW). President Trump’s promised coal boom was a bust as U.S. coal plant retirements during Trump’s four-year term rose to 52.4 GW, exceeding the 48.9 GW retired during President Obama’s second term.

According to 7th Annual Boom & Bust Report released today.

Globally, commissioning of new plants fell to 50.3 GW in 2020, a decline of 34% from 2019, as projects in development struggled to obtain financing and many projects were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic

New construction starts fell 5% from 28.3 GW in 2019 to 27.0 GW in 2020. However, outside of China, new construction starts fell by 74%, from 21.1 GW in 2019 to 5.5 GW in 2020.

The coal plant development pipeline is collapsing in Asia, as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia have announced plans to cut up to 62.0 GW of planned coal power. GEM estimates the policies will leave 25.2 GW of coal power capacity remaining in pre-construction planning in the four countries—an 80% decline from the 125.5 GW planned there just five years ago, in 2015.

“In 2020, we saw country after country make announcements to cut the amount of coal power in their future energy plans,” said Christine Shearer, GEM’s Coal Program Director. “We are very likely seeing the last coal plants in planning throughout most of the world.”

“Dozens of new coal power projects, equal to the total coal power capacity of Germany and Poland combined, were announced last year in China,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, CREA’s lead analyst. “These projects are a key test of the country’s pledge to peak emissions before 2030 and reach carbon neutrality before 2060. Cancelling them would put the country on track to the low-carbon development the leadership says it wants to pursue.”

In addition to GEM the report’s co-authors are the Sierra Club, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), Climate Risk Horizons, GreenID, and Ekosfer.

Dr.Seema Javed is an Independent Journalist & Consultant Global Strategic Communication Council