A new report by Carbon Tracker has issued its concerns that Asia remains heavily committed to coal, with five countries- China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam- planning to build more than 600 coal-fired power plants, accounting for 80% of planned coal plants globally. This is in stark contrast to Britain’s announcement that it will aim to phase out coal power by October 2024.

What is Happening?

Britain’s minister of state for business, energy and clean growth Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Reuters, “You can’t do this overnight, and security of supply has to remain … but we have done it 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.”

Cost Competitiveness of Renewable Energy

Catharina Hillenbrand Von Der Neyen, head of power and utilities at Carbon Tracker, told Reuters, “Investors should steer clear of new coal projects, many of which are likely to generate negative returns from the outset.”

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asia coal plants

A graph showing the long-run marginal cost (LRMC) of coal versus the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of new renewables today (Source: Carbon Tracker).

  1. Cancel all new projects or face $150 billion in value destruction for investors and taxpayers.
  2. Governments should use post-COVID-19 stimulus as an opportunity to lay the foundations for a sustainable energy system.
  3. Enabling market design with a level playing field allows continued growth of renewables at least cost.
  4. In many cases, especially in Asia, governments should resist the urge to switch from coal to liquefied natural gas (LNG).