New Carbon Tracker report: Nowhere to hide: Using satellite imagery to estimate the utilisation of fossil fuel power plants

Dear colleagues,

Carbon Tracker has published a new report: *Nowhere to hide: Using satellite imagery to estimate the utilisation of fossil fuel power plants *

It is the first study to use satellite imagery to assess the utilisation of coal power plants. Our modelling techniques showed that satellite imagery can independently derive coal power plant capacity factors when aggregated at local levels. The average precision of our model for predicting capacity factors of US and EU plants was 91% and 92%, respectively.

As decision-makers turn their focus towards phasing-out existing fossil fuel capacity, the data provision will need to improve dramatically. We applied our satellite imagery methodology and integrated the plant utilisation results at the local level to our ‘investment grade’ climate scenario analysis for coal power in China, of which provides insight into when coal plants should close and the potential stranded asset risk of delaying their retirement.

The headline findings from our asset-level economic analysis for coal plants in China, include:

– Owing to high fuel costs (capacity-weighted average of $85/t), 40% of the coal fleet may be cash-flow negative in 2018 and due to carbon pricing ($40/t by 2040) and air pollution regulation 95% of the fleet could be cash-flow negative by 2040;

– It will be cheaper to build new onshore wind than operate coal by 2021 and solar PV by 2025; and

– As the majority of units are loss-making from 2018 to 2040, Chinese coal power owners can avoid losing $390 bn by retiring the operating fleet in a manner consistent with the Paris Agreement. Cost-optimised retirement schedules show Guangdong Yudean Group, Zhejiang Energy Group and National Energy Investment Group could benefit the most from premature closures consistent with Paris, with asset stranding as a percentage of total capital of 117%, 101% and 52%, respectively.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Cheers,

Matt.

[image: Carbon Tracker Initiative]
*Matt Gray* / Senior Analyst, Utilities & Power mgray@carbontracker.org / Mob: +44(0)7576454155
*Carbon Tracker Initiative* Direct: +44(0)2036334403 40 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UD – UK www.carbontracker.org
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