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China building 200 GW of coal-fired power

August 2, 2016

By Paul Homewood




Greenpeace appear shocked that China is continuing to build new coal-fired power capacity.

From Reuters:


China is building another 200 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity despite tough new measures designed to cut the use of fossil fuels and tackle overcapacity, environmental group Greenpeace said on Wednesday.

China’s coal-dominated thermal power sector has continued to expand rapidly amid an unexpectedly sharp slowdown in energy consumption growth, as well as a state-led effort to tackle smog, cut carbon emissions and encourage cleaner forms of electricity.

According to National Energy Administration (NEA) data, China’s total thermal capacity grew 7.8 percent in 2015 to 990 GW, outstripping a 0.5 percent increase in consumption. Another 24 GW went into operation in the first five months of 2016.

Greenpeace said more than 1 trillion yuan ($150 billion) could be "wasted" on new capacity in the next five years, leading to a surplus of 400 GW. China is currently estimated to have around 200 GW of excess capacity.

After utilization rates fell to their lowest point in nearly four decades last year, China said in April that it would speed up the retirement of old plants by raising environmental, efficiency and safety standards.

Greenpeace said the measures would see 110 GW of coal-fired power projects suspended and up to 70 GW retired by 2020, but changes to permitting last year meant there were still another 295 units under construction, with a total capacity of 200 GW.

Moves to cut central government red tape last year gave local authorities the power to build new plants without having to seek approval from Beijing, leading to a construction surge.

"China’s worsening coal overcapacity crisis is acting as a dead weight on the country’s ongoing energy transition," said Greenpeace coal campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta.

China has acknowledged the severity of the problem, and has already set up a "warning system" for provinces on overcapacity. The energy regulator reiterated in a document published on Tuesday that it would strictly control the pace of construction for coal-fired power.

China is expected to ban all new approvals for coal-fired power plants until 2018 as part of its new 2016-2020 five-year plan for the energy sector, state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.

China is also planning to cap coal-fired capacity at around 1,050 GW by the end of 2020, the report said.

Total large-scale thermal power capacity, more than 90 percent of which is fueled by coal, stood at 1,015 GW by the end of May, accounting for around two thirds of China’s total capacity, according to NEA data.

Average utilization rates at China’s mostly coal-fired thermal power plants fell to 44.8 percent in the first five months, down from 49.4 percent last year, when they were already at their lowest since 1978.


The new construction will add about 22% to current capacity, though some will be used to offset closures of old, polluting plant.


  1. CheshireRed permalink
    August 2, 2016 1:16 pm

    Slightly O/T (but not entirely unrelated) AEP at the Telegraph reveals the US shale oil revolution is now in full swing and stands to potentially decimate the Arabs. So, not all bad news, then!

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      August 2, 2016 7:55 pm

      Thanks for the link. Interesting things going on.
      [Venezuela is a failed nation that $100 oil won’t solve.]

      Not mentioned in the article are several things of note: In the USA the increase in fuel efficiency and growth of solar and wind results in less demand for fuel. Countries that almost entirely rely on fuel production to exist must keep on with output. This puts a long tail on the era of fossil fuels. Auto companies still produce internal combustion fleets (mostly) with a long life span. The few electrics and hybrids just help keep the cost of fuel from rising. Washington State raised gasoline taxes on July 1 and has more coming next July. The new money will go mostly for road improvements (much needed) and hardly anyone noticed the increase. Many things are in place to make the existing situation continue.

      All of the above fits with the last of Paul’s post: “… some will be used to offset closures of old, polluting plant.”
      It is not just China.

      Heads must be exploding at Greenpeace headquarters.
      What’s not to like?

  2. martinbrumby permalink
    August 2, 2016 1:26 pm

    As Greenpeace is so keen to stop China wasting money, surely they should do the decent thing, go to China and sternly lecture the Chinese on the error of their ways whilst playing their high profile illegal pranks for the cameras of their media chums.

    What’s not to like? I wish them great success and hope they like Chinese jails.

  3. David Richardson permalink
    August 2, 2016 1:43 pm

    No you all got it wrong – the Chinese are reducing their use of coal. They are leading the world to a clean green future.

    That nice Geoffrey Lean told me so!

    • CheshireRed permalink
      August 2, 2016 5:53 pm

      Whatever happened to old Geoff? Readers BTL comments were priceless on his columns. 🙂

  4. August 2, 2016 2:19 pm

    Meanwhile, Ontario shut down their coal electricity, and is now pricing away their affordable power grid. Watch out UK!

  5. August 2, 2016 2:27 pm

    The same story from a non Green-Blob outlet:

  6. Green Sand permalink
    August 2, 2016 2:39 pm

    China not alone:-

    ‘Poland Shuns Wind, Doubles Down on Coal-Reliant Future’

  7. August 2, 2016 2:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Petrossa's Blog and commented:
    To offset the abundance of ‘renewable'(the concept is in fact a perpetuum mobile) China has no alternative than to install base load power plants.

  8. markl permalink
    August 2, 2016 3:58 pm

    China will do what it pleases while throwing a few billion yuan at “green” power to appease the renewable narrative. Strictly a political move to give the UN and the US a talking point in their efforts to make it appear the world is rallying around eliminating fossil fuels. They are being given political concessions in other areas for playing along. China has had a taste of the industrial revolution and they have no intention of turning back the clock. In fact they are probably giddy with the anticipation of becoming the industrial center of the world without competition.

  9. August 2, 2016 4:17 pm

    Overcapacity in electricity generation is something the UK can only dream of as long as renewables are the main order of the day.

  10. August 2, 2016 7:10 pm


  11. August 2, 2016 8:07 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Australian warmist politicians and the UN: “China is leading the world in renewable energy rollout.”

    Reality: “(smart) China builds around 1 coal-fired power generator per week to provide cheap and reliable electricity, to manufacture ‘unreliable’ energy sources (wind and solar) to sell to the gullible, eco-brainwashed West.”

  12. AndyG55 permalink
    August 3, 2016 3:06 am

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