China’s Coal Spree Threatens Climate Goals, Report Warns

by Victor Adetimilehin

China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, is approving new coal power projects at an alarming rate, despite its pledge to peak emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2060, a report by two environmental groups has found.

According to the report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM), China approved the construction of 106 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity in 2022, four times higher than a year earlier and the highest since 2015. One gigawatt is equivalent to a large coal power plant.

The report said that 50 GW of coal power capacity went into construction across China in 2022, up by more than half compared with the previous year. The projects were driven by energy security considerations, as China faced severe power shortages in some regions due to coal supply constraints, droughts and strict Covid-19 measures.

However, the report warned that the coal spree could undermine China’s low-carbon efforts and jeopardise its climate targets, as well as the global goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

“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,” the report said.

The report also noted that many of the newly approved coal projects were not in areas with power supply problems, but in regions that already had a surplus of coal-fired power capacity. It said that power shortages would be better addressed by improving grid reliability and efficiency, and increasing the share of renewable energy sources.

China is the world’s largest producer of renewable energy, including wind, solar and hydroelectricity. It has made significant progress in expanding its renewable power capacity, which reached 930 GW in 2022, surpassing its coal power capacity of 1,100 GW.

However, renewable energy still faces challenges in China, such as grid integration, curtailment and storage issues. The report said that China should accelerate its power sector reforms, such as establishing a nationwide spot market for electricity, enhancing cross-regional power trading and implementing a carbon pricing mechanism, to create a level playing field for renewable energy and phase out coal power.

The report urged China to stop approving new coal power projects and cancel those that have not started construction, as well as to retire old and inefficient coal plants as soon as possible.

“China has the opportunity to lead the world in clean energy transition and climate action, but it needs to act fast and decisively to end its coal addiction,” the report said.

Source: Reuter

You may also like

white logo new

Energy News Africa Plus is dedicated to illuminating the vast expanses of Africa’s energy industry.

Editors' Picks

Latest Stories

© 2024 Energy News Africa Plus. All Rights Reserved.