by Gregor Macdonald, The Energy Transition
In the spring of this year, the Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation
(OCBC) announced it would halt all future financing for new coal projects, save for two final newbuilds in Vietnam: Van Phong 1 at 1.3 gigawatts (GW) and Vung Ang 2 at 1.2 GW. By November, OCBC, the second largest bank in southeast Asia, announced it was dropping out of the second project, thus bringing to a sudden end its long history of coal-led project finance.
Meanwhile, in North America, Oregon-based PacifiCorp held a two-day public meeting in October to announce its plans to retire nearly 4.5 GW of coal capacity across 20 different plants by 2038, but with 60 percent of that volume under an accelerated retirement schedule by 2030. The utility, a major operator of coal in the western United States, had been warning all year that wind, solar, and storage were looking like a better value proposition to utility customers. And in particular, the utility warned that continuing to run old coal capacity would yield nothing but losses. Armed with a software model, PacifiCorp came to a surprising conclusion: it was now possible to shutter old coal, take the losses, and still return savings to customers through the buildout of new renewable assets.