Tough plant-retirement decisions being made in Canada to reduce its carbon footprint contrasts with America’s embrace of coal-based generation.
There is a certain irony in Ontario’s decision to phase out its coal-fired generation at a time when the demand for new coal-fired plants is growing in the rest of North America. Global Energy’s analysis of demand for coal for power generation suggests that growth in demand for coal is likely to continue and even challenge coal producers to step up their productive capacity and deliverability to meet that demand.
Today there are more than 37,000 MW of new coal plants planned to be operational before 2010, with more than 15,000 MW of clean coal technology (see Figure 2). Canada’s decision to turn its back on coal seems at odds with the rest of North America’s aspirations for a resurgent coal future restoring some diversity in the fuel mix, in which even higher sulfur content coal from places like the Illinois Basin are expected to strengthen as technology makes use of closer, cheaper, dirtier coal sources to produce a cleaner coal result.