Global coal plant capacity edges up in 2021, hitting climate -report


WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) – The global capacity of power plants fired by coal, the fossil fuel that emits the most carbon dioxide when burned, rose nearly 1% last year as the world recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research report by a U.S. environmental group.

The Global Energy Monitor (GEM) report found that global coal plant capacity grew 18.2 gigawatts to about 2,100 GW or about 0.87%. Scientists and activists have urged the world to move off coal to cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power and in some cases, nuclear power.

“It’s up by a small number,” said Flora Champenois, a research analyst at GEM about the capacity rise. “But it comes at a time when the world needs a dramatic fall in the capacity, not any rise.”

Last year’s surge in new coal plants of about 25.2 GW in China, the world’s top climate polluter, nearly offset coal plant closures in the rest of the world of 25.6 GW, the report said. China has pledged to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak “before 2030” and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

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But its recent focus has shifted towards energy security, following disruptive power cuts and geopolitical uncertainties since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries like Germany have also been reconsidering using more coal to replace Russian natural gas. read more

The United States, the second largest carbon emitter, pledged with about 40 countries at last November’s U.N. climate talks to end international finance for most fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022. But the Biden administration may soon consider calls for exemptions to its pledge as energy markets tighten on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said this month. read more

Despite last year’s capacity rise, the capacity of global coal plants being built in 2021 fell from 525 GW in 2020 to 457 GW, a decrease of 13%, the report said.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio