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WCA comments on global coal fleet report

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World Coal,

On 22 March, Chief Executive of the World Coal Association, Benjamin Sporton, stated the following:

“Even from the report’s own analysis, operational capacity of the global coal fleet continues to grow rising 2% in the last twelve months to 4%. As with large infrastructure projects, the journey from announcement to completion can be a complex process with various challenges – this helps to explain why some energy projects may not come to fruition including coal stations.

"There is no doubt that the global coal fleet is changing as older inefficient subcritical stations built decades ago in Europe and the US are being replaced by new, highly efficient plants in emerging economies like China, south and southeast Asia.

"97 GW of inefficient coal has been displaced by 209 GW of new plants, according to analysis by the same report. WCA supports this transition and given the carbon reduction benefits, so should Greenpeace, CoalSwarm and Sierra Club.

"I’ve just returned from India and China, where coal will continue to act as the base load for the foreseeable future – in China and India coal provides more than 50% of the energy mix.

"In the last five years as China became the largest solar and wind market in the world – it also added 229 GW of coal power. Thus, increasing coal generation by a third. Renewables complement rather than displace coal – a trend that we continue to see across Asia.

"To put in some context, even with the cancellation of some proposed plants, planned capacity additions in India are still more than three times greater than Germany, a major coal user.

"24 countries (including China, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh) representing over 50% of emissions identified a role for low emission coal in their climate pledges submitted as part of the Paris Agreement. As the report notes we must go further to reduce emissions from fossil fuels including coal. This can only be achieved by carbon capture and storage (CCS).

"We therefore need to be resolute in our efforts to accelerate the deployment of CCS technologies which will be critical to achieving global climate objectives. China’s climate pledge suggests that coal will continue to be central to its energy solutions albeit through efficiencies, the use of new coal technologies and CCS. Yes, China is reducing the number of coal stations but not because it’s transitioning away from coal, instead the new dynamics are a signal of a more developed economy.

"In India’s case, the IEA has said that India's coal demand will see the biggest growth over next five years with annual average growth rate of 5% by 2021. The IEA predicts that India and southeast Asia will be the driving force of demand for coal in the decades to come. According to a Wood Mackenzie report, there is a US$250 billion coal investment opportunity in ASEAN over the next decade."

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