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China’s Coal Power Rising Again

November 11, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Robin Guenier




While Ban Ki-moon has fallen hook, line and sinker for China’s “promise” to be carbon neutral by 2060, others might prefer to wait until they actually see emissions falling.

There is little sign of that happening anytime soon, if the latest electricity stats from China are anything to go by.

Until the summer, COVID had led to a cut in demand for power, which inevitably impacted solely on thermal generation. Power from wind, solar, nuclear and hydro cannot easily be switched on and off, and as their costs are mainly fixed it is logical to maximise their output while cutting back on coal and gas generation, where marginal costs are much higher.

However, in Q3 demand returned to pre-pandemic levels. Indeed, generation is actually up 8% from the same quarter last year.

And as a result we find that about half of this increase has been supplied by thermal generation, which has increased by 3% year on year. Hydro is also up, but this appears mainly to be weather related.

In stark contrast, wind power has actually fallen, while solar is effectively unchanged.

The contribution of wind and solar is still tiny, at less than 5% of total generation.






If that was not bad enough, so far this year, new thermal capacity added has nearly tripled that of wind power, increasing capacity by 3% from last year.


  1. Broadlands permalink
    November 11, 2020 2:45 pm

    Any meaningful NET-zero target requires the capture and permanent storage of CO2 in large enough amounts to affect the Earth’s climate. That means the safe geological storage of billions of metric tons of CO2 under pressure. No way to do it, no place to safely store it. And certainly not by 2060. Falling emissions take no CO2 from the atmosphere.

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      November 11, 2020 4:10 pm


      That is a long time, indeed! 🙂

    • Lorne Newell permalink
      November 11, 2020 5:00 pm

      Taking CO2 from the atmosphere will reduce plant growth and increase water consumption. It is suicidal.

  2. Brian S. permalink
    November 11, 2020 2:50 pm

    So China intends to ensure its emissions peak before 2030? They will bring more an more coal and oil fired power stations on line in the next ten years and then slowly phase out the oldest ones thereafter. Meaning China will still be benefitting from lower-cost fossil fuel power, while the western economies struggle to make energy ends meet with the albatross of expensive ‘green’ energy around their necks. Eventually, the only economy that is really working will be the Chinese one. President Xi Jinping and his successors will be singing, “When I rule the World” !

    • dave permalink
      November 11, 2020 6:39 pm

      “When I rule the World”

      it will probably not be worth ruling…

      Another famous observation seems appropriate:

      “You make a desert, and call it Peace!”

  3. Phillip Bratby permalink
    November 11, 2020 2:58 pm

    The capacity installed does not tell the whole story, because thermal can run at 90% load factor, whereas wind is more like 30% load factor. Hence thermal energy increase is nearly 9 times that of wind.

  4. Robin Guenier permalink
    November 11, 2020 3:11 pm

    Thanks for the valuable data Paul.

    Not only did Ban Ki-moon fall hook, line and sinker for China’s “promise”, but he also overlooked President Xi’s confirmation – in the same statement to the UN as his 2060 ‘aim’ – that China will be increasing its emissions between now and 2030. Yet China emitted 11.5Gt of GHGs in 2019 – i.e. 62% of the 18.5Gt that the IPCC indicated should be the 2030 global total if humanity is to keep temperatures to 1.5ºC above ‘pre-industrial levels’. We’re doomed.

  5. Jackington permalink
    November 11, 2020 3:13 pm

    I don’t think there are that many countries daft enough to commit to net zero by 2050; those who have, like UK have clearly no idea of the cost in terms of treasure and jobs and loss of energy security. It’s largely moral vanity.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 11, 2020 7:21 pm

      The question is how far down the road to economic destruction will the UK have to travel before the stupid ones are removed.

  6. Pancho Plail permalink
    November 11, 2020 4:12 pm

    Xi must be chuckling at the total gullibility of the West.
    However I can confidently predict that I will personally achieve zero emissions by 2050. I will be dead.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      November 11, 2020 5:55 pm

      Yes, we are witnessing the biggest economic suicide in history. The Chinese must be looking on in disbelief at our stupidity and their luck.

      • sarastro92 permalink
        November 11, 2020 11:11 pm

        The Chinese are encouraging Green suicide in the West, while building anther 400 coal plants, taking the fleet to over 3200.

        By using coal to power EVs, China will greatly reduce dependence on importing ME oil from wells thousands of miles away. China has huge coal reserves that are powering ultra-efficient plants using scrubber technology to remove REAL pollutants. Evidently they don’t care about CO2 and covertly laugh at Climate Change propaganda. As usual: Watch what they do, not what they say.

  7. Mack permalink
    November 11, 2020 5:18 pm

    O/T Following your recent illuminating article on the green lunacy of the councillors in Wiltshire, I note that the London Borough of Croydon, who announced a climate emergency with great aplomb earlier this year, have just gone bust to the tune of £1.5 billion. Yep, billion. I’m sure that the denizens of Croydon will be delighted to learn that their local Gauleiters have bankrupted the borough and, in the process, not made the slightest difference to the local weather, whilst ensuring decades of future sky high council tax rises. Marvellous.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 11, 2020 7:29 pm

      Failed commercial property ‘investments’ are part of their downfall which sadly many other councils have done as well. I guess they never wondered why private investors were not interested in the properties. An honourable exception goes to a Hampshire council who invested wisely in property and have been bringing in a good income but then their financial director came from a successful private sector career.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      November 11, 2020 8:07 pm

      I did not find exactly that, but did find this:

      Properties owned by the government are empty — 6 months or more.
      Getting involved in real estate and property management is not something
      a governement ought to do. A long and costly history does not recommend
      such a thing. Who didn’t know?

  8. Allan Shelton permalink
    November 11, 2020 5:47 pm

    Why does everyone keep talking about CO2 emissions?
    The GHG Theory has been debunked.
    Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere do not control climate.

    • dave permalink
      November 11, 2020 6:41 pm

      “Why does everyone keep talking about CO2 emissions?”


      • Gerry, England permalink
        November 11, 2020 7:33 pm

        To be fair they are now talking up ‘extreme weather’ to try to keep the scam going in the same way that ‘global warming’ was changed to ‘climate change’ as the ‘pause’ continued for 18 years while CO2 continued to rise.

    • sarastro92 permalink
      November 11, 2020 11:12 pm

      Evidently the Chinese don’t believe GHG propaganda, since they’re building 400 more coal fired plants.

  9. November 12, 2020 1:26 am

    Some unusual details in China’s emission conversation.

  10. Micky R permalink
    November 12, 2020 6:11 pm

    Coal is the future for China. Meanwhile, in the UK, we are shackled with dangerously incompetent politicians and useless, parasitic civil servants.

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