Earth2Tech Maps: Coal Power Plant Deathwatch

Earth2Tech has its ongoing “Ethanol Deathwatch” series but it seems that proposed coal power plants are seeing an equally bad mortality rate these days. Citizen action groups and U.S. regulatory committees have taken note and are compiling lists of withdrawn or blocked coal-fired proposals. In Texas alone, the acquisition of TXU Corp. has scuttled plans for 8 new coal power plants.

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We’ve been combing through lists and reading reports from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and configured this map of coal-fired power plants that have been nixed over the last two years. So far we’ve charted 21 projects in 15 different states amounting to over 16 gigawatts of power (note: this does not include the TXU plant cancellations).

The world’s energy needs are growing rapidly, particularly in India and China, so coal, being one of the cheapest options, is attractive. In May NETL announced there were 151 new plants proposed, while they say 145 gigawatts of coal-fired powered will supposedly be needed by 2030 to meet energy consumption demands. But by October NETL had lowered that number of proposed plants to 121. Given coal is such a dirty energy source, it’s climate change repercussions are starting to be taken into consideration when deciding on whether to build new coal-power plants.

Utilities are having more difficulty getting their proposed plants built, due to the growing concerns about the effects of global warming, as well as the promise of coming carbon regulation. Additionally, the costs of constructing the plants is going up as India and China’s appetite for coal is sucking up the world’s engineering expertise and materials. India and China added 930 megawatts and 90 gigawatts in 2006 respectively. This is in contrast to the U.S.’s addition of 600 megawatts in the same period.


We wanted to give some thanks to several sites we read while compiling this research:

Palang Thai
Invisible Green Hand
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana