The Fate Of European Coal-Fired Power Stations Planned In The Mid-2000s: Insights For Policymakers, Companies, And Investors Considering New Coal

Ben Caldecott, Daniel J. Tulloch, Geraldine Bouveret, Alex Pfeiffer, Lucas Kruitwagen, Jeremy McDaniels and Gerard Dericks

Research Organisation
Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University

Report Date
Aug. 1, 2017

Document summary

Between 2005 and 2008 EU utilities were determined to embark on a major coal-plant construction programme. They announced plans to build 49 GW of new coal-fired power capacity, about 6.3% of total EU installed generating capacity. Yet post-2008, only 10.5 GW of this planned capacity became operational, 37.8 GW (77%) was cancelled, and there remains 1.1 GW still in planning unlikely to ever be built. This report addresses the important questions that stem from this: why did the majority of plant proposals not go ahead; what makes the projects that did proceed different; what challenges are these new plants likely to face now and in the future; and to what extent are the projects that did succeed likely to become stranded generation assets? The results are relevant not just to understanding the fate of the remaining coal-fired power stations in Europe, but also the future of those currently planned or being built in other countries.