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Coal

Coal is both the largest source of electricity generation and the largest single source of CO2 emissions, creating a unique challenge in transitioning to low-carbon energy systems.

Coal Jpg

Key findings

Share of unabated coal-fired power generation in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2050

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Coal-fired power is not on track

Global coal-fired generation has been rebounding strongly in 2021, spurred by rising gas prices in the United States and Europe and increased economic activity in China. Final investment decisions (FIDs) for coal-fired power capacity increased slightly in 2020 to reach 20 GW, primarily concentrated in Asia. However, the overall project pipeline is shrinking – FIDs are now 80% lower than what they were five years ago. CCUS and co-firing options will need to be adopted to prevent the lock-in of emissions from today’s plants. In the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, unabated coal-fired power generation decreases an average of 11% per year to 2030, with a complete phaseout by 2040.

Remaining coal capacity distribution by age of plants still in operation in selected countries, 2021

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Countries that have set targets for coal power phase-outs account for about 3% of global electricity generation

Coal power plants are the largest source of electricity generation and the largest single source of energy-related CO2 emissions, presenting a major challenge for governments seeking a path to energy systems with net zero emissions while maintaining secure and affordable energy. Since the Paris agreement was signed, 21 countries have pledged to eliminate coal-fired generation from their electricity sectors – many of them by 2030. These 21 countries represented 3.2% of global electricity generation in 2020, or 1% of total CO2 emissions. The geographic breakdown of global coal consumption shows that the future of coal will largely be determined in major economies in Asia where electricity demand is still growing in many cases and targets for coal phase-outs have not been set.

Reports

Our work

The FBC TCP provides a framework for international collaboration on energy technology development and deployment of the fluidized bed conversion of solid fuels applied to clean energy. The main activity of the FBC TCP is technical exchange during meetings and workshops. Participants carry out research on operational issues in support of commercial fluidized bed conversion activities and share results. Fluidized bed conversion offers several advantages over pulverized fuel combustion, notably low emissions and the ability to burn a wide range of fuels including waste and biomass.

Founded in 1991, the remit of the GHG TCP is to evaluate options and assess the progress of carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions derived from the use of fossil fuels, biomass and waste. The aim of the TCP is to help accelerate energy technology innovation by ensuring that stakeholders from both the public and private sectors share knowledge, work collaboratively and, where appropriate, pool resources to deliver integrated and cost-effective solutions.

The ICSC TCP provides independent information and analysis on all coal related trends and all aspects of coal production, transport, processing and utilisation within the rationale for balancing security of supply, affordability and environmental issues. Topics include efficiency improvements, lowering greenhouse gas and non-greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water stress, ensuring poverty alleviation through universal access to robust and reliable electricity, together with other sustainability and socially led goals.