Report finds global coal capacity grew in 2022

April 6, 2023

A recent report from Global Energy Monitor found that the capacity to burn coal for power went up in 2022 to 19.5 gigawatts, a 1 percent increase over 2021 with the majority of newly commissioned coal projects in China.

Although countries around the world have promised to phase down the use of coal to help achieve climate goals established by the Paris Agreeement, new coal plants were added in 14 countries and eight new coal projects were announced.

China, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Zimbabwe were the only countries that both added new coal plants and announced new projects. China accounted for 92 percent of all new coal project announcements.

China added 26.8 gigawatts and India added about 3.5 gigawatts of new coal power capacity to their electricity grids. China also gave clearance for nearly 100 gigawatts of new coal power projects with construction likely to begin this year, the Associated Press reported.

But “the long term trajectory is still towards clean energy,” said Shantanu Srivastava, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis who is based in New Delhi. Srivastava said the pandemic and the war in Ukraine temporarily drove some nations toward fossil fuels.

In Europe, where the Russian invasion of Ukraine meant a scramble for alternative energy sources and droughts stifled hydropower, the continent only saw a very minor increase in coal use.

Others went the other way. There were significant shutdowns in the U.S. where 13.5 gigawatts of coal power was retired. It’s one of 17 countries that closed up plants in the past year.

With nearly 2,500 plants around the world, coal accounts for about a third of the total amount of energy installation globally. Other fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energy make up the rest.

To meet climate goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, coal plants in rich countries need to be retired by 2030 and coal plants in developing countries need to be shut down by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. That means around 117 gigawatts of coal needs to be retired every year, but only 26 gigawatts was retired in 2022.

“At this rate, the transition away from existing and new coal isn’t happening fast enough to avoid climate chaos,” said Champenois.

Srivastava added that it’s important to make sure the millions employed in coal and other dirty industries are not left behind when transitioning to clean energy, although that gets more difficult the more coal projects get locked in.



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