A new report has found that the number of coal-fired power plants around the globe is in steep decline. The research was conducted by the Global Energy Monitor, Greenpeace India and the Sierra Club who say there was a 20 percent drop in newly commissioned coal power capacity between 2017 and 2018. As well as that, pre-construction activity and new construction starts also fell 24 and 39 percent respectively. Since 2015, the number of newly-completed plants fell 53 percent while new construction starts plummeted 84 percent.
The following infographic visualizes the decline across the world with planned capacity in pre-construction status falling from 1,090 GW in 2015 to just 339 GW last year. The biggest drops were seen in India and China with the latter planning 515 GW of new coal capacity in late 2015. That has now declined 86 percent, falling to just 70 GW. In India, the trend is similar with pre-construction declining from 218 GW in 2015 to 36 GW in 2018, a fall of 83 percent.
Even though the planning trend is positive, there is some negative news in Asia where new construction of coal power plants increased 12 percent in China between 2017 and 2018. This is primarily due to work resuming on 50 GW of coal power capacity which had been postponed by the central government. The United States leads the way in decommissioning older coal plants with retired capacity in 2018 totalling 17.6 GW. That’s the second highest year on record after 2015 when 21 GW was taken out of service. 50.2 GW of new coal capacity was commissioned globally in 2018 while retirements totalled 31 GW. As positive as trends in pre-construction are, the report warns that global climate goals cannot be reached without a full halt in new coal plants and the retirement of existing ones.