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China Fires Up Coal Power Plant Construction To Jump Start Economy

May 10, 2020

By Paul Homewood


Well, Matt McGrath’s little dream did not last long!


China approved nearly 10 gigawatts of new coal-fired power generation projects in the first quarter, roughly equal to the amount approved for all of last year, amid a broader scramble to jump-start an economy hobbled by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Investment in infrastructure like power generation has played an important part in China’s rapid economic rise, especially in times of economic distress like the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Many expect such spending to play an important role as Beijing tries to restart the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak that has brought activity to a crawl, causing the economy to post its first quarterly contraction since modern record-keeping began.

Coal has always been a controversial part of the nation’s power mix. On the one hand, China has plentiful supply of the resource, which it has harnessed to rapidly build up power infrastructure to feed the country’s growing economy. But such energy is notoriously dirty, and overly aggressive building led to oversupply earlier this decade that sent many producers into the red.

Those factors led the government to scale back and even halt many new coal-powered projects in recent years. But that trend went into reverse in the first quarter, when six major new coal-fired projects were approved that could add 9.96 GW of capacity, according to calculations by Caixin.

That was roughly equal to the amount of similar new power projects approved for all of last year. Of the new projects, four were in the coal-rich area of Shaanxi province, one was in South China’s Guangdong Province and one was in Inner Mongolia.

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  1. sch permalink
    May 11, 2020 5:03 am

    One reason for continued construction is demolition of the older dirtier plants and their replacement by new high efficiency CC plants that are also cleaner. This is in part to reduce the massive air pollution in parts of China, but also it is the cheapest route to more power.
    But Chinese companies will build any kind of power plant you want and many of their African plants are of the dirtier low efficiency variety.

  2. May 11, 2020 9:02 am

    The days of ‘notoriously dirty’ coal are over in terms of new coal plants. Technology has moved on but the writer hasn’t.

    • Sheri permalink
      May 11, 2020 1:10 pm

      The days of coal are over in the USA and Europe since people elect complete morons to run their worlds.

      • John Cullen permalink
        May 12, 2020 12:44 pm

        Sheri, are they actually morons or do they simply appear to be morons for the following possible reasons?
        a) Few legislators in the West are technically competent and may also be insufficiently numerate;
        b) The policy-making process may have been captured by rent-seekers who exclude dissenting voices;
        c) There is an overwhelming media storm promoting climate catastrophism and redemption through green or pseudo-green policies and technologies.

        In such a climate it is very difficult, unless one is particularly diligent, to be correctly informed (as opposed to politically correctly informed).


    • Bertie permalink
      May 12, 2020 10:37 pm

      They are also under the influence of Group-Think.

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