Facts4COP21: Coal is yesterday's hero

No more coal power plants

If we want a reasonable chance of staying within 2°C, we can't build any more coal-fired power plants.

New analysis of coal power plant data by CoalSwarm (see their Coal Plant Tracker here) in collaboration with the ClimateActionTracker.org team shows that the carbon budget leaves no room for new coal power plants. The report looked at IPCC AR5 scenarios that allow a chance of staying below 2°C. It found that under all these scenarios, electricity production from coal power plants (without carbon capture and storage) is much lower than the remaining coal power plant stock. Either current plants need to be switched off, or their load factors reduced.

In the graph above, taken from the Climate Action Tracker Coal Gap report, the grey bar on the right shows the energy from coal power plants already in operation, under construction, approved and announced. The thin red lines on the left side show, for the range of scenarios (10th and 90th percentile), the electricity production from coal consistent with the IPCC AR5 scenarios for 2°C. The grey dashes are the median values. From 2030, in even the most lenient of circumstances (the top of the red line) there's clearly no room for new coal and existing coal plants will need to be pared back. From 2050, coal-fired power needs to be completely phased out.