"China is approving new coal power projects at the equivalent of two plants
every week, a rate energy watchdogs say is unsustainable if the country hopes
to achieve its energy targets.
The government has pledged to peak emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by
2060, and in 2021 the president, Xi Jinping, promised to stop building coal
powered plants abroad.
But after regional power crunches in 2022, China started a domestic spree of
approving new projects and restarting suspended ones. In 2022 the government
approved a record-breaking 106 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity.
One gigawatt is the equivalent of a large coal power plant.
This run of approvals is continuing, potentially on track to break last year’s
record, according to analysis by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and the Centre
for Research on Energy and Clean Air, published on Tuesday.
It said in the first half of 2023, authorities granted approvals for 52GW of
new coal power, began construction on 37GW of new coal power, announced
41GW-worth of new projects, and revived 8GW of previously shelved projects. It
said about half of the plants permitted in 2022 had started construction by
The analysts said: “Unless permitting is stopped immediately, China won’t be
able to reduce coal-fired power capacity during the 15th five-year plan
(2026–30) without subsequent cancellations of already permitted projects or
massive early retirement of existing plants.”
Analysts have observed big advances in the renewable energy sector in China,
which the government intends to make a mainstay of power supply, with coal in a
China is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy, including wind,
solar and hydroelectricity. But previous analyses have found infrastructure to
store and distribute has not kept pace."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics