Nagpur: South Asia has a pre-construction pipeline of 37.4 gigawatt (GW) of new coal projects, with India’s 21GW pipeline accounting for 56% of this. New coal does not make economic sense for India anymore, as renewable energy can deliver these outcomes better, quicker and cheaper, and without the negative socio-economic, health, and environmental impacts of coal, reveals a new report assessing the global pipeline of new coal projects.
The report ‘No New Coal By 2021: The Collapse of the Global Pipeline’, released by independent climate change think tank E3G, analyses that there has been a 76% reduction in proposed coal power since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. It further highlights that though India is moving slowly away from coal at a national level, considerable progress is being made at the state level. The climate groups behind the report are E3G, Global Energy Monitor and Ember.
“India’s pre-construction pipeline of 21GW is the second largest in the world. The country is currently constructing 34GW of new coal capacity, more than the next seven countries combined. This is on top of India’s considerable existing operating fleet of 233GW (11.3% of the global total),” the report states.
It further highlights that since 2015, the country has seen over 326GW of projects getting cancelled, including more than 250GW of shelved capacity. “Conditions are now ripe for India’s remaining pipeline to not continue into construction,” it added.
Between 2019 and 2021, public officials from four Indian states — Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka — announced their intention to “not build new coal power plants”. According to a 2019 study, many more states have the potential to move away from new coal power due to a combination of socio-economic and environmental factors, particularly the rapidly increasing cost competitiveness of new renewables.
Stating that the cost implications of building new coal plants are starker in India than in many other countries, the analysis finds that average coal plant load factors have fallen consistently — from 61% in 2018 to 53% in 2021, making it more expensive to run existing plants and highlighting the folly of building new coal. “Meanwhile, renewable tariffs in India are some of the lowest in the world, reaching a record low of Rs1.99 kilowatt hour (kWh) in December 2020. This is cheaper than the majority of the existing Indian coal fleet, and all the new coal projects. Renewables backed by storage are also increasingly competitive,” the report adds.
Researchers also revealed that there has been a 76% reduction in proposed coal power since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, bringing the end of new coal construction into sight. “The collapse of the global coal pipeline and the rise of commitments to ‘no new coal’ are progressing hand in hand. The economics of coal have become increasingly uncompetitive in comparison to renewable energy, while the risk of stranded assets has increased. Governments can now act with confidence to commit to ‘no new coal’,” said author of the report Chris Littlecott.
Pointing out that multiple countries can add their voices to a snowball of public commitments to “no new coal”, Dave Jones, Global Programme Lead at Ember, said, “We urge governments to publicly state their intentions that no new coal plants will be built in their country. Only five years ago, there were so many new coal power plants planned to be built, but most of these have been now either officially halted, or are paused and unlikely ever to be built.”
Ember is an independent climate and energy think tank focused on accelerating the global electricity transition from coal to clean energy.
BURNING QUESTIONS
– 37.4 GW new coal projects in pipeline in South Asia
– India’s 21GW projects accounting for 56% of this
– New coal makes no economic sense for India
– Renewable energy can deliver better outcomes
– Average coal plant load factors in India fell from 61% in 2018 to 53% in 2021
– Renewable tariffs in India are some of the lowest in the world





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