Coal-to-gas switching: the economics?

Switching coal- to gas-fired power generation is the single largest line-item in our models taking the energy system to net zero emissions and keeping atmospheric CO2 to below 450ppm. This model illustrates the economics.

Mathematically, the analysis works by deducting a model of a new coal-fired power plant from a model of a new gas-fired power plant, so you can easily stress-test the relative impacts of different coal prices, gas prices, CO2 prices, capex costs and efficiency factors.

CO2 prices accelerate coal-to-gas switching, under our base case, long-term pricing assumptions. For brownfield plants, which are already standing, a $10/ton CO2 price is required in the US, c$25/ton in Europe and c$40/ton in Emerging Markets. For greenfield plants, the US and Europe are already set to switch from coal to gas, due to relative capex costs, but in the emerging world, again a c$40/ton CO2 price is required.