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Satellite study shows 40% of China’s coal plants are losing money

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World Coal,

Two fifths of China’s coal power plants are loss-making and owners could save nearly US$390 billion by closing plants in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, reports Carbon Tracker in the first study to use satellite images to assess the everyday use and on-going profitability of fossil fuel power plants.

Carbon Tracker used satellite images and advanced machine learning techniques to estimate the activity of each coal plant. This enables it to assess each plant’s profitability, calculate when it should close and the potential cost of delaying its retirement.

The Paris Agreement sets a target of keeping global warming below 2°C and as close to 1.5°C as possible, and meeting this will require phasing out coal by 2040.

Carbon Tracker tested its satellite-based modelling techniques in countries where information about coal plant utilisation rates is available and found it was 91% accurate in the US and 92% in the EU.

It now plans to apply its methodology to gas, biomass and oil used for power generation, as well as carbon-intensive industrial processes such as refining, steel and cement.

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China coal news