The Case for Converting Asian Coal Plants to Canadian LNG

November 30, 2023

Despite global concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, some Asian countries, among them China and India, are continuing to build new coal power plants at a rapid pace. Globally, over 1,000 new coal-fired power plants have been announced, permitted, or are under construction, with 90 per cent of these located in Asia.

These new power plants alone are expected to emit over 1,400 megatonnes (Mt) of GHGs annually. To put this figure into perspective, Canada must reduce its domestic emissions by approximately 310 Mt to meet its 2030 target.

Moreover, the average age of existing coal-fired power plants in Asia is only 13 years old, less than half the lifespan of a typical plant (coal-fired plants can operate for 30 to 40 years). It will be difficult to decommission these plants right away as an estimated $1 trillion is already invested in the sector. Investors, many of them politically connected, are not especially keen to see these investments fail. While Asian countries have made “national pledges” to build more renewable energy sources in the future, coal will realistically be used for many years to come.