2020: The year that coal power took a hit

(The Third Pole, 18 Jan 2021) Plans for expansion in South and Southeast Asia were finally re-evaluated, with little prospect for a revival this year.

Long seen as a critical emerging market for coal power, South and Southeast Asian countries radically reconsidered their commitment to it last year in the face of new economic realities following the spread of coronavirus. According to new analysis from Global Energy Monitor (GEM), four of the region’s largest emerging economies – Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam – may have cancelled nearly 45 gigawatts (GW) of coal power in 2020, equivalent to the total installed capacity of Germany.

Prospects for a revival of coal development plans in 2021 have also been limited by announcements from major coal financiers in South Korea and Japan of new restrictions on coal power investments beyond their borders.

Analysts have for years warned that coal power expansion plans in several countries in South and Southeast Asia risked overcapacity in the sector, wasted capital and asset stranding – not to mention greenhouse gas emissions and environmental costs. The year 2020 may prove to be when the regions’ coal power expansion plans were finally re-evaluated in the face of the pressing need for climate action and the reality of declining low-carbon technology costs.

External link

The Third Pole, 18 Jan 2021: 2020: The year that coal power took a hit