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NGO Urgewald releases upcoming list of major coal plant developers

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World Coal,

Four days before the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) puts forward its special report on 1.5°C, NGOs have released a new list of the world’s top 120 coal plant developers. “Building new coal plants is an assault on the Paris climate goals,” says Heffa Schuecking, Director of the German environment NGO Urgewald. “Our list names the top companies investors and banks need to shun if they are committed to limiting our planet’s temperature rise.”

While 2017 was another record-busting year for renewables, coal power is still growing in many parts of the world. Currently, 1380 new coal plants or units are planned or under development in 59 countries. If built, these plants would add 672,124 MW to the global coal plant fleet – an increase of 33%.

In retaliation, Urgewald and 28 NGO partners have released the names and project details of the top 120 companies, which account for 68% of the global coal plant pipeline.

Key findings

The world’s largest coal plant developer is China’s National Energy Investment Group (NEI), which aims to build 37,837 MW of new coal plants. The National Energy Investment Group was formed last year, when the Chinese Government merged the Shenhua Group with the China Guodian Corporation. The number 2 and 3 worldwide are the China Huadian Corporation with 25 097 MW and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) with 25 056 MW of new coal capacity in the pipeline. While these companies already operate huge coal plant fleets, 28% of the world’s top 120 coal plant developers have no installed coal capacity as of yet. Coal plant developers are a diverse group and also include companies like the Texhong Textiles Group, which is planning a 2100 MW coal plant for its industrial park in Vietnam, or the Canadian copper miner First Quantum Minerals, which is building coal power stations in Panama and Botswana.

“Our analysis shows that in many countries coal mining interests are key drivers of coal power development,” says Schuecking. 46 of the top 120 coal plant developers are also coal producers and the main rationale for building coal plants in ‘frontier’ countries like Tanzania, Mozambique or Botswana is to power the development of coal mining.

Out of the 59 countries where new coal plants are planned, 11 countries have only 600 MW or less of installed coal capacity and 16 have no coal-fired capacity whatsoever.

While the coal plant pipeline has shrunken significantly since 2016, mainly due to new policies in China and the rapidly sinking costs of renewables in countries like India, the world’s coal plant fleet is still growing. Since the Paris Climate Agreement was negotiated in December 2015, the world’s installed coal-fired capacity grew by 92 000 MW – an increase equal to the combined operating coal fleets of Russia and Japan. “Financial institutions need to react and adopt policies for a full coal exit,” comments Schuecking.

Background on the Coal Plant Developers List

The pipeline of new coal projects is very dynamic. Each year, new coal plant plans are announced, old plans are abandoned or in some cases the ownership of planned projects undergoes shifts. The first Coal Plant Developers List (CPDL) was developed by Urgewald in 2017 as a tool for banks and investors. In order to keep this tool sharp and effective, the CPDL is updated every year.

The 2018 CPDL is based on the following criteria: quantity (number of MW planned), geography (the list is geographically weighted to cover all countries where significant amounts of coal power projects are planned) and ownership (the list is based on equity and not on EPC2 or supply contracts). The CPDL was conceived as a ‘short list’ to guide investors’ first divestment steps.

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