Coal plant project cancelations accelerate in 2022 – except in China

Coal plant project cancelations accelerate 2022 except China

Photo: Robert Linder on Unsplash


April 7, 2023






April 7, 2023





Operating and planned coal power capacity fell both in developed and developing countries excluding China in 2022, as existing plants were retired and planned projects canceled, according to Global Energy Monitor.

Coal power capacity retirements reached 26 GW last year, and closing was announced by the end of the decade for another 25 GW. The amount of planned coal-fired capacity in developing countries, excluding China, fell by 23 GW. However, China’s planned capacity increased by 126 GW, far offsetting changes in the rest of the world, Global Energy Monitor revealed in its ninth annual survey. The country holds a global share of 68.2% in active development with 367 GW.

The pace of retirements needs to move four and a half times faster – and new coal plants must stop being built – in order to put the world on track to phase out coal power by 2040, as required to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the report adds. To stay on track, all existing coal plants must be retired by 2030 in the world’s richest countries, the organization found.

Total coal power capacity inches 1% higher in 2022

In particular, an average of 60 GW must come offline within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to exit coal by 2030, and for non-OECD countries, 91 GW each year for a 2040 deadline. Accounting for coal plants under construction and in consideration (537 GW) would require even steeper cuts, the authors said. The record low, 479 GW, was hit in 2021.

Globally, in net terms, the operating fleet grew by 19.5 GW, or less than 1%, in 2022. China accounted for 59% of the 45.5 GW of newly commissioned capacity, with only 14 countries in total adding any coal power. Outside China, the global coal fleet continued to shrink, although at a slower rate than in previous years.

There is 537 GW in total in coal power projects under consideration or construction

Total coal power capacity under development – including pre-construction and construction stages – has remained relatively level since 2019 after a significant collapse from the 2014 highs.

EU increases coal power output only marginally

After the European Union retired a record high of 14.6 GW of coal capacity in 2021, the gas crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted a slowdown in coal retirements, with only 2.2 GW retired in the last year. What appeared to be a spike in coal capacity added only 1% to total EU coal generation in 2022.

The United States led coal retirements with 13.5 GW in 2022.

“Progress in retiring coal power plants in rich countries and cancelling new coal power projects in developing countries, despite the gas crunch that shook global energy markets in 2022, is encouraging. Outside of China, the response to the energy crisis was dominated by investment in clean energy. However, that progress urgently needs to be accelerated. China pulled in the opposite direction,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, the lead analyst for the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Turkey ranks third in proposed coal capacity but most projects are crumbling

As for the region that Balkan Green Energy News is covering, Turkey ranks third in the world for proposed coal power capacity under development, behind only China and India. As of 2022, the pipeline consists of 10.6 GW announced, prepermitted and permitted projects, of which just 145 MW was under construction. But they have all struggled to obtain financing while operating and planned facilities have suffered a series of legal setbacks, the survey notes.

The Emba Hunutlu plant of 1.4 GW was the only coal plant that was put into operation last year and it may be one of the last overseas coal plants financed by China. The fate of a dozen other projects hangs in the balance, the organization pointed out.

The EU’s forthcoming carbon border tax system makes any new coal units in its neighboring Western Balkan countries unlikely

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has signaled a shift towards more sustainable energy sources. By 2035, it plans to add over 65 GW of wind and solar capacity to the grid and only 3.2 GW of coal capacity. Since 2018, the increase in coal capacity has significantly slowed down. There was 20.1 GW in total at the end of 2022. One 360 MW unit was taken off the grid last year.

Elsewhere in Southeastern Europe, Greece built Ptolemaida 5, probably its last coal plant, and retired a 300 MW unit.

Serbia is finishing the Kostolac B3 project. The data from the report show 1.35 GW of coal power is in development in the country. But like in the rest of Europe including Turkey, the European Union’s upcoming Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and plans for national carbon pricing systems may be the last nail in the coffin for the technology.

According to the chart, Bosnia and Herzegovina canceled projects for 1.15 GW in 2022. There is 1.35 GW in active development, just like in neighboring Serbia.

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