Culture 3 min read

Global Investment in Coal Power Plants Falls Below 75%

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Coal power plants are dying in the United States, and renewable energies aren’t helping.

It seems that the efforts of the current administration at the White House to revive the American coal industry are backfiring. More coal power plants were retired during the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency than during Barack Obama’s entire first term.

The same uncertain future is facing the coal industry in other historic coal-reliant economies like Germany, Australia, and in other places around the world.

Coal can’t be phased out all at once but it’s almost certainly on the way out and a new report comes with some more bad news for the global coal industry.

Investors Back Away From Coal

There’s no denying that that coal industry has been a big job provider in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. But the world’s changing, and the world’s climate is changing.

For the last two centuries, coal has been a major economic driver. But now, its days are numbered as evidenced by the latest report from the 2019 published this week. According to the report, investment in coal plummeted 75 percent in just three years.

Faced with rising competition from natural gas and renewables, coal-fired power plants are shutting down at a record pace, something which hasn’t been seen since the 19th century’s Industrial Revolution.

IAE’s World Investment Report means that historic investors are losing faith in the long-term economic viability of coal and fossil fuels in general.

“Energy investments now face unprecedented uncertainties, with shifts in markets, policies and technologies,” said Dr Fatih Birol, IEA’s Executive Director. “But the bottom line is that the world is not investing enough in traditional elements of supply to maintain today’s consumption patterns, nor is it investing enough in cleaner energy technologies to change course. Whichever way you look, we are storing up risks for the future.”

Read More: Carbon Bubble, Fossil-Fuel Economy to Burst Soon Says new Study

The ongoing coal capacity retirement in the world doesn’t mean that coal’s demise is around the corner. It’ll be a while before we get to a completely coal-free world as investment in coal continue.

“Though decisions to invest in coal-fired power plants declined to their lowest level this century and retirements rose, the global coal power fleet continued to expand, particularly in developing Asian countries,” says IAE’s report.

Companies continue to invest in coal only because renewable and nuclear power generation capacity can’t keep up with the rising demand for power. The more investment pours into solar, wind power, and other renewables, the more the coal economy shrinks, and the less carbon remains in our atmosphere.

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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