Coal-fired power plants capacity to grow by 35 per cent in next 10 years

Paul Boughton
World coal-fired power plant capacity will grow from 1,759,000 MW in 2010 to 2,384,000 MW in 2020. Some 80,000 MW will be replaced. So there will be 705,000 MW of new coal-fired boilers built. The annual new boiler sales will average 70,000 MW. The annual investment will be $140 billion.  

These are the most recent forecasts in Coal-fired Boilers: World Analysis and Forecast published by the McIlvaine Company.

Coal-fired power in Asia will rise to 1,464,000 MW in 2020 up from 918,000 MW this year. This will account for an increase in CO2 of 2.6 billion tons.

So even if the US and Europe were to cut CO2 emissions by far more than the targeted 20 percent, the total CO2 increase from Asia will offset it by a wide margin.

Coal-fired power in India will rise from 95,000 MW to 294,000 MW over the next 11 years. This accounts for the largest percentage rise (300) plus the biggest quantitative rise (199,000 MW). So India alone will increase CO2 by 955 million tons per year

The US presently operates coal-fired power plants at a much lower efficiency than those in Europe. Many of the new Chinese power plants are highly efficient. A number of small old power plants have been replaced. However within the last decade China has increased capacity from less than 50 per cent to more than 200 percent of the US capacity. Its CO2 emissions far exceed those from US power plants. Since coal is also still burned in residential and commercial boilers, Chinese total coal burning CO2 emissons far exceed the US.

China and India have coal resources. Other Asian countries have access to supplies from Australia and other nearby sources. The cost of coal-fired power is low compared to the alternatives in the near-term. Since planning of new coal-fired power plants occurs as much as a decade in advance, there is not likely to be a major change in the forecast through 2020. Any impact of renewable energy in Asia is only likely to happen after 2020.

McIlvaine Company tracks every coal-fired power project in World Power Generation Projects.

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