The S-Curve Indicator: Week of January 28, 2013

This week’s indicator is 1,401 GW, which is the installed capacity of coal power plants planned globally as of July 2012, according to the World Research Institute. More than three-quarters of planned coal power capacity is located in China or India.

In this space, like many others, we’ve already mentioned the role of China and India in fueling coal demand at a time of record natural gas production. Perhaps more surprising is the high generation capacities planned in smaller countries like Turkey (ranked #4 globally), Vietnam (#5), and South Africa (#6). Affordable, reliable power is critical for economic growth. The planned expansion in these countries underscores the extent to which there are few mass-scale alternatives to coal for low- and middle-income countries. China and India may represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of international coal demand.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.