1200 new coal facilities planned worldwide: Is this for real ?
According to a recent report from the WRI (World Resources Institute), 1199 coal-fired are proposed to be built globally, representing 1400 GW.
No surprise; India and China are leading the pack. They represent together 76% of the new planned capacity. India is planning the construction of 455 plants for a total capacity 510GW while China wants to build 363 plants for a total capacity of 560 GW. Most of the other countries involved in these developments are energy starving nations with fast growing economies. In India, for instance, more than 300 million people still have no access to power. Australia and the US are two noticeable exceptions of developed countries that are also entertaining the idea of development coal energy in the future. Australia is planning nine plants for a total capacity of 5GW and the US than 36 plants for a total of 20GW.
This is bad news for the environment since coal is major source of CO2 emission, a gas that plays a major role in global warming. For now though, these projects are only projects. Several factors may play against them. Tougher regulations are emerging here and there. This is the case in the US where the consequences of using coal are becoming costly and costly for the operators. This is also the case in Australia.
Elsewhere, in China for instance, concerns about the environment are growing and potentially bear very high political risks.
Coal is also threatened by sources of energy. Shale gas is becoming more and more competitive, in particular in the US. Thanks to the discovery new oil and gas reserves that are sometimes very significant, such as the one recently discovered offshore of French Guyana, other sources of fossil energy also have their word to say. On a longer term, the growth of renewable energy and a rebirth of nuclear may also impact the development of coal.
But what may be decisive ultimately are Sandy and the very strong impact this catastrophe had on the public opinion and not only in the USA. For the first time in recent history a major urban area was threatened by a natural catastrophe directly linked to global warming. For the first time also officially linking such an event to global warming was not a taboo anymore in the US.