Coal plant repurposing for ageing coal fleets in Developing Countries

Developing countries with sizeable coal capacities, such as South Africa, Chile, and India, are exploring retirement of coal plants by repurposing them for productive uses including renewable energy generation, storage and ancillary services. However, a framework to establish the economic rationale for repurposing does not currently exist. This report presents a detailed cost-benefit framework for examining the value proposition of repurposing for three applications – solar energy generation, battery energy storage, and synchronous condenser (that produces fast reactive power essential for maintaining system security)– and applies it to a representative 1,000 Mega Watt coal plant in India. With the important caveat that this complex issue requires wider consideration of a range of economic and sociopolitical issues, including impacts on the workforce and local communities, the report’s findings reveal a strong economic rationale for repurposing.