Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

India won't save coal. Nor will China.

I've talked before about the collapse in new coal-fired power station construction in India and China.  Construction of new coal power stations stopped dead in 2016.  This is because the cost of renewables has fallen to way below the cost of new coal.  In fact new wind and solar power is cheaper than average wholesales electricity prices.

Two further reports about this, one from IEEFA and the other from CleanTechnica confirm the clear trend away from coal.  

The IEEFA report shows how total coal capacity is expected to rise only 46 GW over the next 10 years, after taking into account planned closures of old power stations.  And that forecast has been cut 11 GW since 2016.  Given how cheap renewables are, it is extremely likely that when the 2019 National Electricity Plan is completed, the 2027 figure for coal will be revised down again. As a result, India's thermal coal imports are forecast to decline by 2/3rds by 2020/2021.  This is likely the beginning of repeated downward revisions to net new coal-fired power station construction and thermal coal imports as renewables keep on getting cheaper and cheaper.

I recommend you read the full article here

CleanTechnica has a nice chart showing that last year India added more solar capacity than any other country except China.  Mind you, China added more than the rest of the world put together, enough to provide about 2.2% of total Chinese electricity demand (see below for the calculation)

Source: CleanTechnica

It's simple.  In two of the world's largest economies, where rapidly growing electricity demand would just 5 years ago have implied rapidly growing coal use and rapidly rising CO2 emissions. the deployment of renewables implies that coal usage has or soon will stop growing and ultimately will start to decline.

➽  Total Chinese electricity demand was 6308 TWh in 2017.  That's 17,282 GWh per day.  The new solar capacity should produce 382 GWh per day at a 30% capacity factor, or 2.2% of total demand.  Since much of this new capacity is rooftop solar, capacity factors may be even lower, more like 20%.  [Numbers corrected after communication with @simonahac ]

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