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China 5-Year Plan Confirms Massive Expansion Of Coal Fired Capacity

November 8, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Reports of planned expansion of coal power on China have led to much sticking of fingers in ears and shouting LALALA amongst the warmist fraternity in recent months. Well, now it’s official.

Reuters report:



China aims to cap coal-fired power capacity at 1,100 gigawatts by 2020, higher than the current ceiling but accounting for less of the country’s total power supply, as the top global energy market seeks to increase the use of cleaner renewable fuels.

Announcing its five-year plan for the power industry, the National Energy Administration (NEA) on Monday said China aimed to have 2,000 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity by 2020, of which at least 320 gigawatts, or 16 percent, would come from solar and wind power and 110 gigawatts from natural gas.

That would bring China much more in line with current power generation mixes in the United States and the European Union, where installed renewable capacity – excluding hydro-power – stands at around 22 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

As part of its long-term plan to shift to clean power, the NEA said China will eliminate or delay at least 150 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power projects between 2016 and 2020.

While the new ceiling for coal is up from 960 GW in a previous five-year plan for the period to 2015, it will bring down coal’s share in China’s total power mix to more than 50 percent from over two-thirds.

"It is not easy to cap coal power capacity under 1,100 GW. If we don’t take measures, I believe the capacity will go beyond 1,250 GW," Huang Xuenong, director of the power department under NEA, told reporters at a briefing.

Given an economic slowdown, rise in electricity consumption is expected to slow to about 3.6-4 percent over 2016 to 2020, from an annualized 12 percent in 2011, Huang said, resulting in excess capacity – mainly coal power and hydro power.

Conventional hydro power capacity will reach 340 GW by 2020, up only 6 percent from end-2015, the NEA said, indicating a surplus and a grid connection problem in the southwest.

Analysts, however, believe the planned cap for coal capacity is still quite high.

The government may have to cut the target as manufacturers shift to cleaner fuels and Beijing encourages expansion of renewables, said Zhou Dadi, vice-chair of China Energy Research Society. "We are … seeing coal-fired power projects are being delayed in some provinces due to overall slower demand."

"The government targeted numbers would not encourage more investment into coal-fired utilities."

  Total power consumption will reach between 6.8 trillion and 7.2 trillion kilowatt hour (KWh) by 2020, up from 5.69 trillion KWh by the end of 2015.



The target of 1100 GW of coal capacity by 2020 compares with capacity of 794 GW at the end of 2013. The headline claim that coal is being capped is highly mendacious, and avoids the truth that coal fired capacity will be ramped up substantially in the next few years.  




The Reuters report tries to make things sound more palatable by using the usual trick of talking “capacity”, in order to make renewbles sound more important:

it will bring down coal’s share in China’s total power mix to more than 50 percent from over two-thirds.

The reality, in terms of actual generation, is a lot different.


Based on capacity utilisation calculations from the 2015 China Statistical Yearbook , we can project what China’s electricity balance sheet might look like in 2020, using the capacity figures given by Reuters.


  GW Capacity Capacity Utilisation
Coal 1100   4171
Gas 100 56 490
Oil 30 56 147
Wind 210 21 386
Solar 110 11 106
Hydro 340 38 1132
Nuclear 58 85 432
Others 52 30 136
Total 2000 7000


NOTE: Generation from coal is the balancing figure, and and would imply a capacity utilisation of 43%, much lower than the 2015 figure of 56%. (The Statistical Yearbook lumps coal, oil and gas together under the “Thermal” heading.


In my view, this lower utilisation of coal fired capacity can reasonably be explained under two scenarios:

1) Whilst the new capacity is likely to operate at much higher levels, due to their reliability and efficiency, we are likely to see a gradual phasing out of older plant, which is highly polluting, close to urban centres, and highly inefficient and costly.

2) Any spare capacity will be needed soon after 2020, as energy demands continue to increase.


Nevertheless, my assessment probably understates coal generation. We already know, for instance, that China’s grid is having difficulty in coping with wind and solar output, produced in remote areas where the grid infrastructure is poor. It may well be that the planned increase in wind and solar capacity won’t generate the extra power assumed.

Even as these figures stand though, coal will still account for 60% of China’s electricity generation in 2020, and thermal in total 69%.

More significantly though, thermal generation will increase from 4247 TWh in 2013, to 4808 TWh by 2020. An increase, in other words, of 13%. 

In contrast, wind and solar contribute only 7%. 

And as I have mentioned before, there is simply no way that China would build all of this new coal fired capacity if they planned to close it all down again in just a few short years time.





1) Nuclear capacity is currently 15 GW, but is expected to reach 58 GW in 2020, according to the World Nuclear Association.

2) Solar and wind capacities are per Bloomberg.

  1. November 8, 2016 7:46 pm

    Played Obama for the fool.
    What China will do is install USC coal at 45% efficiency, together with wet SO2 scrubbers, and baghouses/precipitators for fly ash, then shut the oldest plants running at 34% without emission controls. Cut coal consumption >25% on the new capacity while fixing air quality. If they don’t have sufficient low sulfur coal, they can buy it from US or Australia. US has surplus capacity in Powder River basin because old coal is being shut in favor of new CCGT fueled by cheap abundant fracked gas.

  2. HotScot permalink
    November 8, 2016 9:50 pm

    The world will be a different place in 5 years, different still in 20 years.

    To imagine China really means what it says here is to believe in flying pink elephants.

  3. November 9, 2016 1:10 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Inconvenient news for climate zealots who praise China for leading the charge on ‘unreliables’ – wind/solar (i.e making them for the gullible West) and signing that Paris deal thing. LoL.

    • mikewaite permalink
      November 9, 2016 9:42 am

      As an indication of how unreliable wind power can be :
      today 9th Nov there is snow forecast over northern England , power demand naturally is high , 45GW, and metered wind is contributing just 1GW
      That is after billions(?) have been poured into that industry over the last 20 years.
      How could this happen in a country that provides more Nobel prize winners in science per head than almost any other.?

      • November 9, 2016 9:58 am

        Wind turbines are mere symbols of mankind’s Godly hubris. Symbols to the folly of green eco-insanity.

  4. AndyG55 permalink
    November 9, 2016 1:47 am

    Interesting if correct

    “An award-winning Surrey company that described itself as a “world leader” in wind turbines has gone out of business.”

  5. tom0mason permalink
    November 9, 2016 4:50 am

    Says it all —

    • November 9, 2016 12:45 pm

      nice simple graphic, clear statement of what we all know!

    • manicbeancounter permalink
      November 9, 2016 10:40 pm

      Most of the actual growth in global primary coal production (using the eia – US Energy Information Administration – figures) since 1980 is from China. However, in the future much of the Asian growth will be from India and Indonesia. Most of the growth in Oceania (basically Australia) is in meeting Asian demand.

      Coal is highly polluting, with many adverse health affects from the particulates and the smogs generated in cities. It is a cheap and highly accessible energy source, enabling very high growth rates in China and India.

  6. Athelstan permalink
    November 9, 2016 8:43 am

    Events have a funny way of changing the crazies of green new order.

    And with it that, keening, onerous depressing leitmotif and isn’t it just timely that the cat is out of the bag concerning Obarmy’s idiot green Neverland treaty and China’s propensity to stick her arse up to the west, “agreement? Na – not us, you are possessed by the green chimera – always you are the western mugs and always do the Chinese finesse you.”

    I predict that, America will commence to revisit and more encourage new coal fired generation capacity.

    Way down in Marrakesh at the climate gob fest, HQ of, the group think of man made emissions doomsters, those egregious NGO liars – flapperati moaners of green will be dissolving in rivers of tears – not before time the UNIPCC will be vanished into the ether, UNEP next and then the UN needs forthwith: to be disbanded.

    End of the UN and its Internationalist wet dream….. UN agenda 21 NWO – I dearly ***king hope so.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      November 9, 2016 9:19 am

      Next time, all USA participants will have to pay to attend out of THEIR OWN POCKET.

      Attendance will be down sharply 🙂

      • Athelstan permalink
        November 9, 2016 1:15 pm

        Oh yes indeed!

  7. November 9, 2016 9:30 am

    Reblogged this on Wolsten.

  8. roger permalink
    November 9, 2016 11:33 am

    RIP AGW!!!!!!!!

  9. November 9, 2016 1:13 pm

    GB has just started a consultation on phasing out coal-fired electricity, full of all the usual green crap about emissions, but on gridwatch last night I watched coal generate 8.86 GW of the modest peak demand of 49 GW, with no spare capacity besides the OCGTs, and the diesels on standby (imports were at MAX and wind around 2.5 GW, i.e. 2.5 GW higher than it might have been).

    Get your comments in quick to the govt, before Feb 2017:

    Watch the horror story of GB supply and demand here:

  10. November 10, 2016 9:07 pm

    An extraordinary claim about China ending coal power stations is made in as BBC WS prog about solar , which is a total propaganda travesty
    false claim, after claim, after false claim
    We all know about the huge solar bankruptcies in China, but this prog mentions none of them
    instead we get to hear this rosy dream of the The Sun King of China Meet Huang Ming

    The prog begins with them “oh look at these panels on the roof” (then you realise they are talking about hot water panels . ..You shouldn’t really mix talk of solar water and solar PV up)

    Greens just believe all this stuff without question.

    BTW The Elon Musk rescue of one ponzi scheme with his other ponzi scheme
    Tesla takeover of Solar City
    Investors will vote on the deal on 17 November.</a.
    ..anyone think the political climate is like now for that ? (rhetorical Qn)

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