Global Energy Monitor
  • Flora Champenois

A key indicator of coal power capacity growth — new construction starts — looks set to decline outside of China for the second year in a row, according to new quarterly data from Global Energy Monitor (GEM). 

As of October 2023, data in the Global Coal Plant Tracker show that construction starts for the year are under 2 GW, excluding China, well below the nearly 16 GW annual average for the same set of countries in the last eight years (2015 to 2022). 

Coal power capacity beginning construction outside of China is on track for 2023 to reach a record annual low since GEM began its yearly data collection in 2015. 

With the UN’s COP28 kicking off this week in the Emirates, the collapse in new coal breaking ground provides momentum for world leaders seeking to reign in the remaining 131 coal projects (110 GW) outside of China still under consideration — projects that have either been announced or are in the pre-permit and permitted stages.

Bar chart showing coal plant capacity starting construction outside China from 2015 to 2023, with the 2023 value so far on track for a record low around 2GW. The highest value was in 2016 when it was above 30GW

Key points from the Global Coal Power Tracker October 2023 supplemental data release include:

  • In the first nine months of 2023, 18.3 GW of coal capacity moved from being proposed (announced, pre-permit, permitted) to shelved given the lack of recent updates or cancelled.
  • This decrease in coal under consideration was tempered by 15.3 GW of entirely new proposals under consideration in India (8.6 GW), Indonesia (2.5 GW), Kazakhstan (4.1 GW), and Mongolia (0.05 GW), and 4.2 GW of previously shelved or cancelled capacity now considered proposed again.
  • 39 GW of additional coal capacity moved from being considered shelved to cancelled, up from 32 GW in all of 2022.
  • 110 GW of coal power capacity is still under consideration outside of China, with the top ten countries in terms of cumulative proposed coal making up 83%, led by India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
  • More than 95 percent of the coal plant capacity starting construction this year was in China, with annual new construction starts there consistently rising since hitting a nine-year low in 2019.

As of the latest available data (July 2023), coal power capacity under construction outside China is highest in Southeast Asia and South Asia: India (31.6 GW), Indonesia (14.5 GW), Bangladesh (5.8 GW), and Vietnam (5.4 GW) make up 84% of the 67 GW under construction excluding China.

Seeing new coal starts bottom out and the face-off between projects under consideration versus those that have been dropped is a welcomed dose of reality ahead of tough negotiations at COP28. Governments, utilities and banks all have a role to play in accelerating the global coal to clean energy transition, starting with an end to new coal projects

Flora Champenois, Project Manager for the Global Coal Plant Tracker at Global Energy Monitor

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