What do the colored dots mean?
The colors indicate the status category:
- Announced: Projects that have appeared in corporate or governmental planning documents but have not yet moved forward by applying for permits or seeking land, coal, or financing. This often includes a planned “Phase II” at a location where “Phase I” is currently under development.
- Pre-permit development: Projects that have actively moved forward in one or more of the following ways: applying for environmental permits; securing financing; and/or acquiring land, coal, water rights, or transmission arrangements. In India, pre-permit means the project has received a “terms of reference” (TOR) letter from the Ministry of Environment, while in China it means a feasibility study has been completed.
- Permitted: Projects that have secured all environmental permits and licenses but have not begun construction. For most countries, including India, this means the environmental impact assessment has been approved and environmental clearance has been granted. In China, “Permitted” means a plant has received a permit from the Development and Reform Commission, allowing for construction. In some countries, such as Turkey, construction is not allowed until both the EIA has been approved and a generation license is granted.
- Construction: concrete-pouring or foundation work has begun. GEM does not mark a plant as under construction if a “foundation stone” has been laid or only land preparation such as site clearing or dredging is underway, because such activities do not always lead to physical construction of the plant. Where possible, satellite images and first-hand accounts are used to verify construction status.
- Shelved: Projects where sufficient evidence is found to indicate that it is no longer moving forward. A project that shows no activity over a period of 2 years is categorized as “Shelved”. Projects where construction has been put on hold for over 2 years are also designated “Shelved.” If a company or government announces that a project is on hold, it is marked shelved until it meets the criteria for cancellation (below).
- Cancelled: In some cases companies or governments announce that they have cancelled a project. More often a project fails to advance and then quietly disappears from company documents or government energy plans. A project that was previously in an active category is moved to “Cancelled” if it disappears from company or national planning documents, even if no announcement is made. In addition, a plant that shows no activity over a period of 4 years is categorized as “Cancelled”. Projects that are switched to natural gas or biomass are considered “Cancelled” as coal plants.
- Operating: Units that have been commissioned. This means the unit has passed testing and synchronization with the grid. In some cases a plant is commissioned but does not begin commercial operation (known as the commercial operation date, or COD) until later.
- Mothballed: Units that have been deactivated or put into an inactive state but not retired. Such units can return to operation, although they are not currently operating.
- Retired: Units that have been permanently decommissioned or converted to another fuel.
How accurate are locations?
Each coal plant location is marked “exact” or “approximate.” In the case of exact coordinates, locations have been visually determined using Google Maps, Google Earth, or Wikimapia (existing projects). For proposed projects, exact locations, if available, are from permit applications or other company documentation. As of January 2019, the GCPT included exact locations for 95.3% of operating units (6,411 out of 6,725).
What do the numbers in the circles mean?
The numbers tell the number of generating units at each location. To find information on each unit, click on the number, then select one of the colored dots.
I’ve zoomed in, but don’t see a power plant. Why?
If a coal plant is still in the pre-construction phases (Announced, Pre-permit development, or Permitted), there may be no sign of activity. In other cases, only approximate location information could be found. Finally, satellite photos in some geographies are updated infrequently, so recent activity is not shown.
How do I find out if a location is exact or approximate?
Locations tend to be known with greater accuracy as plants move from early stages of development toward construction. To find out the coordinates of a location and whether a location is exact or approximate, click on the location dot, select the wiki page, and look under “Project Details.”
Can I see a list of the coal-fired units?
Yes, click on “Table” in the top left corner of the map.
How were the carbon dioxide figures derived?
The tracker uses a calculation based on size of plant, type of combustion technology, and variety of coal. For details, see Estimating Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal Plants on GEM.wiki.
Does the tracker show all the operating plants in each country?
The Global Coal Plant Tracker includes all operating coal-fired units 30 MW or larger, as well as units proposed since 2010 and units retired since 2000.
How do you define capacity?
Capacity is measured in gross megawatts (also known as nameplate capacity), prior to subtracting capacity used for plant operations.
What about coal-to-liquids and other synfuels plants?
The tracker only includes coal-fired electrical generating plants.
Can you explain the difference between “units” and “plants?”
The tracker provides separate data on each of the multiple facilities that typically exist at a particular location. Each of these facilities is referred to as a “unit.” The entire collection of units at a given location is referred to as a “plant.”
Improving the Tracker
What if I find an error or a missing project?
Please use the contact form to let us know about any errors or omissions.
Who built this tool?
The tracker was designed and produced by Global Energy Monitor. To the greatest extent possible, the information in the tracker has been verified by researchers familiar with particular countries. The following people participated in plant-by-plant research: Elena Bixel (Europe Beyond Coal), James Browning (Global Energy Monitor), Bob Burton (Global Energy Monitor), Gregor Clark (Global Energy Monitor), Joshua Frank (Global Energy Monitor), Ted Nace (Global Energy Monitor), Christine Shearer (Global Energy Monitor), Adrian Wilson (Global Energy Monitor), and Aiqun Yu (Global Energy Monitor). Additional wiki editing and fact checking was provided by Christine Law, Iris Shearer, Austin Woerner, and Yvette Zhu. The tracker architect was Ted Nace. The project director is Christine Shearer. Web/GIS programming was done by Tom Allnutt and Gregor Allensworth (GreenInfo Network), with support from Tim Sinnott (GreenInfo Network).
How do I cite the data?
Please cite the data as “Global Coal Plant Tracker, Global Energy Monitor, January 2023 release.”