Quick Take: Although it's certainly no surprise, Navigant Research has documented that North America and Europe are about to see a massive wave of coal plant retirements or conversions. Many utility executives just don't see any point in resisting the many pressures against coal.
By the way, if you don't like the idea of tearing down plants in North America and Europe, you can travel to China and other parts of Asia, where they are building them far faster than we are pulling them down in the rest of the world. - By Jesse Berst
Coal Plant Decommissioning
Driven by tightening environmental regulations, competition from natural gas plants, and public pressure for cleaner sources of electricity, utilities will retire record numbers of aging coal plants between 2013 and 2020. Coal plant owners face a complex series of decisions around these plants, including whether to convert them to natural gas combustion, how best to accomplish the decommissioning process, how to replace the generating capacity, and what the eventual disposition of the facility and the land will be.
At the same time, the coming wave of retirements offers large opportunities to the companies that will carry out the decommissioning processes: consultants; engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) companies; demolition companies; environmental remediation firms; and so on. While retirements will occur in many countries, the majority will take place in North America and Western Europe, as countries in Asia Pacific, for example, continue on a path of major coal generation additions in the next 2 decades. Navigant Research forecasts that the market for coal plant decommissioning in North America and Europe will grow from $455 million in 2013 to $1.3 billion by 2016, declining rapidly thereafter. Cumulative revenue from 2013 to 2020 will total $5.3 billion.
This Navigant Research report examines the market for coal plant decommissioning, taking into account the full range of options (conversion to alternative fuel, mothballing plants and leaving them in place for possible future restarts, complete demolition and remediation, and so on) for plant owners in deciding the fate of these facilities. The report includes forecasts for North America and Western Europe for both numbers of coal plant retirements and revenue from coal plant decommissioning, through 2020. Key players in this market are profiled, and conclusions and recommendations for both plant owners and providers of decommissioning services are provided as well.
Key Questions Addressed:
- How many coal plants will be retired from 2013 to 2020?
- What decisions will plant owners face in retiring and disposing of these plants?
- What types of companies will supply coal plant decommissioning services?
- How much will a typical decommissioning project cost?
- How much revenue will be generated by coal plant decommissioning projects from 2013 to 2020?
- In which regions and countries will the majority of these retirements occur?
- What are the conclusions and recommendations for plant owners and for providers of decommissioning services?
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.