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Green energy undercuts more than $600B in coal investments

Coal developers risk wasting nearly $640 billion because it’s already cheaper to generate electricity from green energy than from new coal plants in all major markets, Carbon Tracker Initiative reported yesterday.

The independent financial think tank got right to the point:

Policymakers need to stop new investments in coal power immediately and redesign power market regulation to minimize stranded asset risk [and] accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

Banks are increasingly withdrawing from fossil-fuel company investments due to tougher emissions-cuts targets and cheaper green energy.

It takes 15 to 20 years for capital recovery for new coal investments, so that makes it risky.

By 2030 at the latest, it will be cheaper to build new wind or solar than continue to operate coal across the globe, according to the report.

Reuters reports:

The report examined the economics of 95% of coal plants which are operating, under construction, or planned worldwide.

Globally, 499 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power capacity is planned or under construction with an investment cost of $638 billion.

More than 60% of global coal plants are currently generating electricity at a higher cost than could be produced by building new renewables.

The US has 254GW of coal capacity, with 47% costing more than green energy.

Electrek’s Take

We, of course, have written at length about how coal is not only bad for our planet, but it’s also economically unwise for investors — it’s just a bad bet. This latest report just reinforces what we’ve been saying all along.

You personally want to invest wisely and also do good? Buy some solar stocks, for instance. They’re low right now (so a good time to buy), but they’re going to bounce back. Forget the fossil fuels. Invest ethically.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.