Developing Economies Drive Projected Coal Plant Construction

With population growth projected to continue in Asia and the Pacific rim region well into the next decade and beyond, those countries will need to adjust accordingly. How they will handle this growth remains to be seen, but one thing is certain; a rising population will also mean steady growth in demand for energy in the region – as many sources have indicated – especially for electricity.

The problem is there is already a gap between availability of energy and our current world population. Currently, nearly one-fifth of the world’s population does not have access to electricity according to estimates by International Energy Agency (IEA). So with population growth expected to exacerbate this gap in the next few years, countries such as China and India are taking matters into their own hands to change the cycle of “energy poverty” and coal is playing a sizeable role.

A map from the U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy details the number of proposed coal-fired power plant projects by country. The map shows that tremendous amount of new capacity is expected to be filled in the Pacific Rim by coal.

The map makes clear that even as the world adjusts and moves toward new energy sources, there remains considerable demand for coal and other traditional fossil fuels. The IEA recently projected in that in 2040, fossil fuels will still provide as much as 75 percent of the world’s energy. And, as the Chamber’s map explains in great detail, although there are proposed coal-fired plants on every continent, most regions are dwarfed in comparison to China, India and others in Asia who, between them, have nearly one million megawatts of proposed capacity on the way.

To feed the growing global appetite for affordable energy, Asian countries will continue to look for willing trading partners to provide these resources. Power plants in China and India will burn coal with very little care about the fuel’s origin or who will reap the benefits of that trade.

Opportunity is knocking from across the Pacific, and it’s high time that we answer the door. Export projects like Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview are more than economically validated by projected demand for coal in Asia. Washington has a chance to beat the competition and make the most of this opportunity. For too long, projects like Millennium Bulk Terminals have had their potential stifled by an arduous regulatory environment. Millennium is an investment in Washington’s long-term economic future, and it’s time for the project to move forward.

Read the full piece here.