Global Energy Monitor

Inclusion Criteria

The Global Coal Tracker (GCT) includes coal import, export, and domestic terminals, as well as coal mines, coal plants, and coal-based steel plants (blast-furnace-basic oxygen furnace). 

All global coal terminals are included with capacity of handling 1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of coal or more. Coal terminals include all operating, proposed, retired, and shelved or cancelled projects on the globe. 

Coal terminal data is combined with data from the following coal and steel trackers:

The Global Coal Mine Tracker (GCMT) is a worldwide dataset of coal mines and proposed projects. The tracker provides asset-level details on ownership structure, development stage and status, coal type, production, workforce size, reserves and resources, methane emissions, geolocation, and over 30 other categories. The most recent update – published in January 2022 – includes operating mines producing 1 million tonnes per year or more, with smaller mines included at discretion. The tracker also includes proposed coal mines and mine expansions with a designed capacity of 1 million tonnes per year or more. The map and underlying data is updated bi-annually, in January and July. 

The Global Coal Plant Tracker (GCPT) provides information on coal-fired power units from around the world generating 30 megawatts and above. The GCPT catalogs every operating coal-fired generating unit, every new unit proposed since 2010, and every unit retired since 2000. Units often consist of a boiler and turbine, and several units may make up one coal-fired power station. The map and underlying data is updated bi-annually, in January and July. 

The Global Steel Plant Tracker (GSPT) provides information on global crude steel production plants, and includes information on every plant currently operating at a capacity of one million tonnes per year (mtpa) or more of crude steel. The GSPT is currently being expanded to include all plants meeting the one mtpa threshold that have been proposed since 2017 or retired or mothballed since 2020. Steel plants consist of multiple units, depending on the iron and steel production method used. The GCT is filtered to include only plants that produce steel through coal-based methods (blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace). The GSPT map and underlying data are updated annually in March. 

Each project included in the GCT tracker is linked to a wiki page on GEM.wiki, which provides additional details.

Research Process

The GCT’s data collection method involves professional research analysts searching government, industry, NGO, and general news sources for projects and information about their updates. Data points are recorded in tabular format for aggregate presentation and analysis. In-depth qualitative information is recorded in project-specific wiki pages and may include information relevant to the specific project: financing, environmental impacts, extraction sources, public opposition, aerial imagery, videos, links to permits, coordinates, etc.

Coal terminal data is updated annually, in December. The map and underlying data for both the GCMT and GCPT  are updated bi-annually, in January and July. The GSPT map and underlying data are updated annually in March. 

Under standard wiki convention, we strive to link each piece of information to a published reference such as a news article, company report, or regulatory permit. Alternate names for projects are also recorded. For projects with names in other languages, we also attempt to record local language names. In order to ensure data integrity in the open-access wiki environment, professional research analysts also review all edits made to project wiki pages.

Data Updates

All data updates prioritize four steps, with a focus on recently completed or newly proposed coal projects:

  • Verifying operational status, which involves researching whether construction has begun on proposed projects, or whether construction has been completed and operations have begun
  • Adding project updates, which involves updating projects in the Tracker with any recent qualitative news or data point changes that have occurred since the last data update
  • Adding new projects that were proposed or announced since the previous update
  • Adding missing projects that were missing from previous versions

Verifying Project Status

During each update, every project with an operational status of “proposed”, “construction”, or “shelved” is researched to determine if the operational status has changed since the last update. If construction has begun on a project listed as “proposed”, the status is changed to “construction”. If a project listed as “proposed” has had no development updates in two years, the status is changed to “shelved”. If service has begun on a project listed as “construction”, the status is changed to “operational”. If a project listed as “shelved” has had no development updates in four years, the status is changed to “cancelled”.

Adding Project Updates

News articles and industry reports are used to update information about coal projects regardless of operational status. Examples include accidents and explosions, expansion projects, and project retirements. If an existing coal project has a proposed expansion, the expansion is added to the tracker database and to the project’s wiki page.

Adding New Projects

News articles, government websites, and industry sources are used to find projects that have been newly proposed since the last update.

Adding Missing Projects

Initially, a preliminary list of coal terminals was gathered from public data sources including industry, news, and government websites, and all projects found were included. The list was then researched further to acquire additional data points and qualitative information about each project.

Mapping

Coal terminal locations are determined using publicly available information and maps, usually from industry sources or news publications. If no publicly-available location data is available, the terminal’s location is approximated to the closest known location.

The Tracker’s public interface, including the map view, table view, and filtering mechanism, was developed by GreenInfo Network using the Leaflet Open-Source JavaScript library.