Southeast Asia must retire 5.5GW of coal plants per year to meet climate goals

(Eco Business, 18 Apr 2023) Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines have cancelled almost 13GW of coal projects in 2022, but this is far from what is needed to phase out the fossil fuel over the next two decades, a new report from Global Energy Monitor has revealed.

Southeast Asia must retire more than five gigawatts (GW) of coal plants per year, enough to light up around four million homes, over the next two decades to phase out the fossil fuel in the region, according to the latest report from a non-governmental organisation which monitors fossil fuel infrastructure globally. 

Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines—the top coal-consuming countries in the bloc—are cumulatively operating about 90GW of coal power, despite cancelling 12.7GW of proposed projects in 2022, revealed a study released on Thursday by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a San Francisco-based non-profit that monitors fossil fuel and renewable energy projects worldwide.

This figure is conservative, as it ignores coal capacity under construction and likely to come online in the next few years (25.6GW) and coal capacity that is still under active consideration (10.3GW), said Flora Champenois, the report’s lead author and project manager for GEM’s Global Coal Plant Tracker. 

To date, less than 1GW of coal capacity has been retired in the region since the year 2000 at a handful of units in Thailand (Mae Moh) and the Philippines (Naga and Toledo City). So an average of 5.5 GW of capacity retired by year will require a “dramatic increase” from the region’s historic closure rate, Champenois told Eco-Business.

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Eco Business, 18 Apr 2023: Southeast Asia must retire 5.5GW of coal plants per year to meet climate goals