Global Energy Monitor

Architecture

Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Plant Tracker (GCPT) uses a two-level system for organizing information, consisting of both a database and wiki pages with further information. The database tracks individual coal plant units and includes information such as plant sponsor and parent company, plant status, plant and coal type, and location. A wiki page for each power station is created within the GEM.wiki, and contains more detailed, footnoted information such as project history and public opposition. The database and wiki pages are updated bi-annually, in January and July.

Research Process

Preliminary lists of plants in each country were gathered from public and private data sources including Global Energy Observatory, CARMA, BankTrack’s “Dirty Deals” list, Wikipedia, Enipedia, WRI’s “Global Coal Risk Assessment” report (2012), Platts World Energy Power Plant database, Industcards “Power Plants Around the World Photo Gallery”, national-level trackers developed by environmental organizations (Sierra Club (USA), Kara Atlas (Turkey), and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Germany)), as well as various company and government sources. The data was then vetted against additional sources of information, listed below. 

Coal plant data is validated and updated through five main sources:

  • Government data on individual power plants (such as India Central Electricity Authority’s “Monthly Report on Broad Status of Thermal Power Projects in the Country” and the U.S. EIA 860 Electric Generator Inventory), country energy and resource plans, and government websites tracking coal plant permits and applications;
  • Reports by state-owned and private power companies;
  • News and media reports;
  • Local non-governmental organizations tracking coal plants or permits; 
  • On the ground contacts who can provide first-hand information about a project or plant. 

Where possible, coal plant data is circulated for review to researchers familiar with local conditions and languages. Reviewers and collaborators include CAN Europe, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, Europe Beyond Coal, GreenID, Greenpeace, Kiko Network, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Sierra Club and Yayasan Indonesia Cerah.

Wiki Pages

For each power plant and proposal, a wiki page is created on Global Energy Monitor’s GEM.wiki. Wiki pages provide a repository for in-depth information including project background, financing, environmental impacts, coal types and sources, public opposition, aerial photographs, videos, links to permits, coordinates, and maps. Under standard wiki convention, all information is linked to a published reference, such as a news article, company or government report, or a regulatory permit. In order to ensure data integrity in the open-access wiki environment, Global Energy Monitor researchers review all edits of project wiki pages.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

For each coal plant unit, the tracker calculates carbon dioxide emissions based on the following information:

  • Unit capacity
  • Emission factor (pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu) for each type of coal
  • Heat rate for each combustion technology (Btu/kWh), adjusted for quality of coal
  • Capacity factor based on the global average utilization rate

Lifetime emissions assume 40 years of operation. For a 39-year-old plant, that means one more year of operation is assumed. For plants that are 40 years or older, 5 more years of operation are assumed.

Further details including parameters and sources can be found at Estimating Carbon Dioxide emissions from Coal Plants on GEM.wiki.

Mapping

To allow easy public access to the results, Global Energy Monitor worked with GreenInfo Network to develop a map-based and table-based interface using the Leaflet Open-Source JavaScript library. In the case of exact coordinates, locations have been visually determined using Google Maps, Google Earth, Planet Labs, or Wikimapia. For proposed projects, exact locations, if available, are from permit applications or other company documentation. If the location of a plant or proposal is not known, GEM identifies the most approximate location.