As countries like the UK commit to phasing out coal, naysayers love to point out that the new coal development in poorer countries will more than make up for cuts in the West.
But that may not be the case anymore.
While coal plants were booming in China not so long ago, recent trends suggest that consumption may have peaked years ahead of schedule. In India too, where coal is still expected to grow for some time to come, solar just keeps on getting cheaper and more ubiquitous.
Now Cleantechnica reports that Vietnam—one of the countries with the largest pipeline of proposed new coal projects outside of India and China—may be rethinking its options. Specifically, the country's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has announced that his government will be reviewing "development plans of all new coal plants and halt any new coal power development.”
Such moves by "developing" economies are likely to resonate well beyond the countries themselves. Given that coal consumption is falling and renewables are gaining traction in many coal producing countries like Australia, coal producers are hanging their hopes on exports to other nations who are still developing their infrastructure. But new research from Oxford University, reported on over at The Guardian, suggests that export-dependent coal mines are among the riskiest bets for energy investors anywhere in the world.
At some point, the industry is just going to run out of buyers.