World Resources Institute WRI

Global coal risk assessment: Data Analysis and Market Research

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Courtesy of World Resources Institute WRI

Coal-fired power plants are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions—one that could be increasing significantly globally. This working paper analyzes information about proposed new coal-fired plants and other market trends in order to assess potential future risks to the global climate.

Key Findings

  • According to IEA estimates, global coal consumption reached 7,238 million tonnes in 2010. China accounted for 46 percent of consumption, followed by the United States (13 percent), and India (9 percent).
  • According to WRI’s estimates, 1,199 new coal-fired plants, with a total installed capacity of 1,401,278 megawatts (MW), are being proposed globally. These projects are spread across 59 countries. China and India together account for 76 percent of the proposed new coal power capacities.
  • New coal-fired plants have been proposed in 10 developing countries: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Laos, Morocco, Namibia, Oman, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan. Currently, there is limited or no capacity for domestic coal production in any of these countries.
  • Our analysis found that 483 power companies have proposed new coal-fired plants. With 66 proposed projects, Huaneng (Chinese) has proposed the most, followed by Guodian (Chinese), and NTPC (Indian).
  • The “Big Five” Chinese power companies (Datang, Huaneng, Guodian, Huadian, and China Power Investment) are the world’s biggest coal-fired power producers, and are among the top developers of proposed new coal-fired plants.
  • State-owned power companies play a dominant role in proposing new coal-fired plant projects in China, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Czech Republic and many other countries.
  • Chinese, German, and Indian power companies are notably increasingly active in transnational coal-fired project development.
  • According to IEA estimates, the global coal trade rose by 13.4 percent in 2010, reaching 1,083 million tonnes.
  • The demands of the global coal trade have shifted from the Atlantic market (driven by Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the United States) to the Pacific market (driven by Japan, China, South Korea, India and Taiwan). In response to this trend, many new infrastructure development projects have been proposed.
  • Motivated by the growing Pacific market, Australia is proposing to increase new mine and new port capacity up to 900 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) — three times its current coal export capacity.

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