Montrone, L., Steckel, J., Nemet, G.

Investment in new coal-fired power plants after the COVID-19 pandemic: experts expect 170–270 GW of new coal

in Environmental Research Letters, 28.04.2023

Peer Review , Climate and Development

To avoid dangerous climate change, the global community has committed to phasing down coal at COP26 in Glasgow. Since policies and pledges currently implemented in the power sector are not sufficient to meet mitigation targets, countries are expected to increase their ambition over time within the UNFCCC process. Furthermore, some countries are bilaterally negotiating support packages to speed up the phase-out of coal through 'Just Energy Transition Partnerships'. Yet, to assess those ratcheting up efforts an understanding of the current baseline is pivotal. Here, we quantify the probability that currently planned coal plants will be built, based on an in-depth expert elicitation consisting of interviews with 29 experts from ten countries. We analyze the most important factors influencing the realization of the coal pipeline, isolate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and compare the experts' forecasts with mitigation pathways scenarios. We find that globally 170 GW–270 GW of new coal-fired power plants are likely to be built in the upcoming years. Future negotiations for joint partnerships can use the results of this elicitation as a baseline to determine ambitious coal phase-out plans.