New Coal Plants Dwindle Amid Wave of Canceled Projects

A coal-fired power plant in Tianjin, China.

A coal-fired power plant in Tianjin, China. Asian Development Bank via Flickr

Some 1,175 gigawatts of new coal projects have been canceled since 2015, an amount greater than the current coal capacity of China, according to a new report from climate think tank E3G.

Falling costs of renewables have made coal projects less competitive, the report said. Additionally, since 2015, the year the Paris Agreement was adopted, 44 governments have committed to no new coal power. Another 40 countries are well positioned to make the same pledge as they have no new coal projects in pre-construction, the authors wrote.

“The collapse of the global coal pipeline and the rise of commitments to ‘no new coal’ are progressing hand in hand,” Chris Littlecott, associate director at E3G and lead author of the report, said in a statement. “Governments can now act with confidence to commit to ‘no new coal.’”

Those new coal projects that are still moving ahead are largely concentrated in Asia. China alone accounts for 53 percent of coal projects under construction and 55 percent of projects in pre-construction, and China is also continuing to finance coal projects overseas. Since 2015, however, its coal pipeline has shrunk 74 percent, and President Xi has said China will “strictly limit the increase in coal consumption.”

To further discourage the growth of coal, the United States is co-sponsoring an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) proposal to end export financing for new coal power plants without carbon capture technology, Reuters reported. Canada, the European Union, South Korea, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are also backing the proposal.