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.

First, the present value of repurposing benefits outweighs corresponding decommissioning costs – while the direct (mainly demolition and environmental compliance), indirect (contingency costs associated with any unusual environmental issues that may arise), and total decommissioning costs are $58 million, $46 million, and $104 million, respectively, the corresponding gross benefits from repurposing are up to $123 million, $468 million, and $591 million, respectively.

Second, decommissioning costs are about 50% for coal plants in India (i.e., at $58 million) vis-à-vis plants in the United States (i.e., at $117 million).

Finally, the report provides a methodology for selecting plants for repurposing, based on vintage, energy charges, and qualitative factors.


Shrimali, Gireesh; Jindal, Abhinav. 2021.

Coal Plant Repurposing for Ageing Coal Fleets in Developing Countries : Technical Report (English). Energy Sector Management Assistance Program Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group. 

Users also downloaded
The report’s practical lessons and guidance will be of interest to multiple stakeholders along the RBF value chain, including researchers and verification agents, technology suppliers, multilateral…
May 11 2023
cover depicting woman and child in their home
This report addresses the technical dimension of the challenge in the context of developing countries, intending to inform E-Mobility practitioners and policymakers about the impacts on power systems…
March 31 2023
In this 2022 Annual Report, we highlight the human impact of ESMAP’s work and the ways we responded to the polycrisis by seeking, supporting, and disseminating energy solutions that cater to the…
March 10 2023
Rose Owino a tailor in Migori, uses a solar light to charge her phone during the day, Migori, Kenya
How does one make the case for clean cooking in countries with a high access deficit? What are the guiding principles for developing a clean cooking strategy? What building blocks are necessary to…
March 7 2023
woman using improved cookstove