42% of coal power plants losing money

30th November 2018


Web coal istock 502578902

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Energy ,
  • Fossil fuels ,
  • Global ,
  • Investment

Author

Gary Gordon

Two-fifths of the world’s coal power plants are already running at a loss, a study by Carbon Tracker has found, with the number expected to rise to almost three-quarters by 2040.

The financial think tank said high fuel costs were causing the coal plants to lose money, with carbon pricing and air pollution regulations set to exacerbate this over the next two decades.

It forecasts new wind and solar power to be cheaper to operate than 96% of today’s existing and planned coal stations by 2030, with countries that fail to make the transition risking billions.

The findings are derived from a two-year modelling exercise that involved analysis of 6,685 coal plants, representing 95% of all operating capacity, and 90% of that under construction.

“The narrative is quickly changing from how much do we invest in new coal capacity, to how do we shut down existing capacity that minimises losses,” Carbon Tracker head of power and utilities, Matt Gray, said.

China is forecast to save $389bn (£305bn) if it closes its coal plants in line with the Paris Agreement, while the EU could save $89bn, the US 78$bn and Russia $20bn.

However, the researchers warn that this will come at a huge cost to the coal industry, which is currently being propped up by government subsidies and ultimately taxpayers.

If coal plants are closed in line with the Paris Agreement, the industry is forecast to lose $92bn in South Korea, $76bn in India, and $51bn in South Africa, compared with “business as usual supported by the state”.

Carbon Tracker said governments should ban investment in coal power when it is cheaper to build renewable energy and gas infrastructure – a point that has already been reached in Europe, the US, India and parts of Latin America.

And when it is cheaper to build new renewable energy capacity, and gas costs less than running existing coal plants, the researchers argue government’s should implement a coal phase-out.

“Our analysis shows a least-cost power system without coal should be seen as an economic inevitability rather than a clean and green nicety,” Carbon Tracker energy analyst, Sebastian Ljungwaldh concluded.

Image credit: iStock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

A social conscience

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

Disinformation about the impossibility of averting the climate crisis is part of an alarming turn in denialist tactics, writes David Burrows

6th June 2024

Read more

David Symons, FIEMA, director of sustainability at WSP, and IEMA’s Lesley Wilson, tell Chris Seekings why a growing number of organisations are turning to nature-based solutions to meet their climate goals

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Although many organisations focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is vital to factor in scope 3 emissions and use their footprint to drive business change

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA submits response to the Future Homes Standard consultation

31st May 2024

Read more

What is the role for nature in the Climate Change Act? Sophie Mairesse reports

20th May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close