Britain announced that it is aiming to phase out coal power by October, 2024, one year earlier than its previous target date, Reuters reported. By contrast, Asia remains heavily committed to coal, with five countries — China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam — planning to build more than 600 new coal-fired power plants, accounting for 80 percent of planned coal projects globally, according to a new analysis from Carbon Tracker.
In the United States and Europe coal power is, by and large, significantly more expensive than renewable power, but across much of Asia, coal power remains cost-competitive, according to Carbon Tracker. By 2026, however, it will be more expensive to run almost all coal plants globally than to build new renewable energy projects, the report said.
“Investors should steer clear of new coal projects, many of which are likely to generate negative returns from the outset,” Catharina Hillenbrand Von Der Neyen, head of power and utilities at Carbon Tracker, told Reuters.
In 2020, China produced more than half of the world’s coal power, reflecting both the growth of coal in Asia and its decline in the U.S. and Europe, The Economist reported. In contrast, Britain, home of the world’s first coal-fired power plant, has taken significant steps toward phasing out coal, which today accounts for only 2 percent of its electricity mix, down from 25 percent just five years ago, Reuters reported.
“You can’t do this overnight, and security of supply has to remain … but we have done it,” Britain’s minister of state for business, energy and clean growth Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Reuters. “And we’ve demonstrated that it’s possible and that clean growth technologies have moved on a lot, and many can invest in them. We want to help all those who want to make that transition to renewable and clean growth an absolute priority.”