Published: Fri, March 24, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

China, India led slowdown in coal power development, says report

China, India led slowdown in coal power development, says report

2016 saw a steep decline in the number of coal-fired power plants in pre-construction across the world - according to a new report.

The amount of new coal power being built around the world fell by almost two-thirds past year, prompting campaigners to claim the polluting fossil fuel was in free fall.

Last year, Greenpeace India released a report on the coal power overcapacity, which estimated that India would be wasting Rs 3.2 lakh crore on idle coal power plants by 2022.

Note: A typical coal-fired generating unit is 500 megawatts, or 0.5 gigawatts, in size, with most power stations having two or more such units.

Dahiya said the Ministry of Environment and Forests continued to clear further coal power projects and the government continued to stress upon its target of mining 1.5 billion tonnes of coal by 2020.

China's aims to decouple its economy from reliance upon coal has been self-evident in recent months.

While the report cautions that more drastic cuts must be made to keep warming below 2°C, the global slowdown in coal construction brings that goal "within feasible reach".

Meanwhile, the report identified 10 "hot spot" countries including Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan, that have failed to develop their renewable-energy sectors in step with their peers while continuing to build and plan new coal plants.

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A new report says the dramatic decline was driven mostly by India and China, whose governments are moving away from coal in favour of cleaner energy.

"However in China and in other parts of the world, 2016 marked a veritable turning point", said Lauri Myllyvirta, senior global campaigner on coal and air pollution with the Greenpeace.

"Closures of old coal plants drove major emission reductions especially in the U.S. and United Kingdom, while Belgium and Ontario became entirely coal-free and three G8 countries announced deadlines for coal phase-outs", Myllyvirta said.

"Growing awareness of the air pollution problems coal causes, the impact of policies to tackle climate change, and the rapid growth and cost-competitiveness of renewable sources of energy, along with emerging battery technologies, are making new coal plants redundant before they are even built", he said.

"This has been a messy year, and an unusual one", said Ted Nace, director of CoalSwarm, in a statement.

"The decline in new coal plants in Asian countries is truly dramatic, and shows how a ideal storm of factors is simply making coal a bad investment", said Paul Massara, now of North Star Solar but a former CEO of RWE npower. India is now in the midst of a solar power revolution, with bids as low as Rs 2.97 (USD 0.044) per kilowatt-hour and government plans to install 215 GW of renewables (biomass, small hydro, wind, distributed solar PV, and utility scale solar PV) by 2027, the survey said.

Continued investment on coal is not only an economic challenge.

However, according to the coal industry, the fuel would continue to remain essential to economic growth in Asia for decades to come.

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