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China’s New Coal Power Plant Capacity in 2020 More Than 3 Times Rest of World’s

February 13, 2021

By Paul Homewood



You read it here first!!




Now Reuters have caught up:



SHANGHAI – China put 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity into operation in 2020, according to new international research, more than three times the amount built elsewhere around the world and potentially undermining its short-term climate goals.  

The country won praise last year after President Xi Jinping pledged to make the country "carbon neutral" by 2060. But regulators have since come under fire for failing to properly control the coal power sector, a major source of climate-warming greenhouse gas.

Including decommissions, China’s coal-fired fleet capacity rose by a net 29.8 GW in 2020, even as the rest of the world made cuts of 17.2 GW, according to research released on Wednesday by Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a U.S. think tank, and the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).  

"The runaway expansion of coal-fired power is driven by electricity companies’ and local governments’ interest in maximizing investment spending, more than a real need for new capacity," said Lauri Myllyvirta, CREA lead analyst.  

The country’s National Energy Administration (NEA) didn’t immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

China approved the construction of a further 36.9 GW of coal-fired capacity last year, three times more than a year earlier, bringing the total under construction to 88.1 GW. It now has 247 GW of coal power under development, enough to supply the whole of Germany.  

A team of central government environmental inspectors delivered a scathing assessment of China’s energy regulator last Friday, accusing officials of planning failures and focusing too much on guaranteeing energy supply.  

The NEA had allowed plants to be built in already polluted regions, while projects in less sensitive "coal-power bases" had not gone ahead, they said.

China has been criticized for pursuing an energy-intensive post-COVID recovery based on heavy industry and construction, and experts say new coal plants could end up becoming heavily-indebted "stranded assets."

Christine Shearer, GEM’s coal program director, said China needs to ensure its short-term development plans align with long-term climate goals.

"Hopefully as the Chinese government determines its coal power capacity targets for the next five-year plan (for 2021-2025), it will severely restrict if not end new coal plant builds and accelerate retirements," she said.


Do these silly little researchers really believe the Chinese government will pay the slightest attention to their witterings?

I note they also repeat the fake claims about capacity often made by Greenpeace:

“new coal plants could end up becoming heavily-indebted "stranded assets." 

Quite what China’s economic decisions have to do with some beardies at Greenpeace is beyond me. But the reality is not what they want you to believe. China is still desperately short of reliable power generation, and will need much more in coming years as their economy continues to grow:



  1. Philip Mulholland permalink
    February 13, 2021 10:17 am

    Oh dear.

  2. Devoncamel permalink
    February 13, 2021 10:29 am

    This more than anything shows the futility of ‘net carbon zero’ and the rest of the naive nonsense spewing from the mouths of the green agenda mob.

  3. February 13, 2021 10:56 am

    The Asian Century?

  4. Alan permalink
    February 13, 2021 11:34 am

    What strikes me first on reading this is “good for the Chinese, showing good sense”

  5. Joe Public permalink
    February 13, 2021 11:40 am

    Don’t worry Paul, China was a Paris COP signatory. Greenies and Enviros the world over applauded its INDC.

  6. Philip Mulholland permalink
    February 13, 2021 12:16 pm

    Climate Science 6; CO2, CH4 “Do not cause measurable warming” Podcast by Dr Holmes.

  7. Douglas Brodie permalink
    February 13, 2021 12:24 pm

    It’s not just China that is dependent on fossil fuels.

    During the recent cold spell UK electricity generation has sometimes been over 60% from fossil fuels including over 7% coal, with wind as low as 8% and solar 0%. Include biomass (almost 7% of total supply) with emissions higher than coal and the fossil fuels in imported electricity (up to 11% of supply) and the fossil fuel contribution to UK electricity generation at times rises to over 70%. Yet the government wants to get rid of fossil fuels in favour of intermittent renewables.

    Nuclear electricity supply has been as high as 13% but the greens want it to fade away, as will happen soon with all but one of our existing nuclear power stations due to be retired by 2030.

    We are sleepwalking into a catastrophic disaster. The national grid could collapse at any time yet the government thinks it can be expanded many times in size to heat all our homes (very expensively, instead of gas) and power a national fleet of expensive, user unfriendly electric vehicles. Madness!

  8. February 13, 2021 12:26 pm

    Meanwhile, in our great developed world where first coal, and now oil, are poison, once great companies are in desperation mode:

    BP took its first step into the UK’s offshore wind sector during last week’s auction with bids for two windfarms worth 15 times the rate paid by developers in the past, raising concerns within the industry that the rocketing seabed prices would inflate the cost of reaching the UK’s climate targets. (Guardian.)

    BP chief executive Bernard Looney said: ‘Success in this round marks BP’s entry into one of the world’s best offshore wind markets.’ (As quoted in the Mail.)

    • Douglas Brodie permalink
      February 13, 2021 12:39 pm

      The boss of BP has a very appropriate surname!

  9. John Palmer permalink
    February 13, 2021 12:27 pm

    I loved the complaining comment that China was ” focusing too much on guaranteeing energy supply.” No sh*t, Sherlock, why would any Government even think of doing such a thing.
    Would that our wretched, greenwashed, Government thought like that!!

  10. mikewaite permalink
    February 13, 2021 12:40 pm

    Are we likely to get more winters like this one? If the BBC is correct in saying that the cold spell is due to global warming , and we know that , thanks to the coal and gas plants China and India , this will not cease for decades , then the answer is yes.
    Of course few of us here believe or trust the BBC, but lets take their argument further . The UK contribution to the solution is to build more wind farms according to the Govt. It will be decades before that exercise yields any effect, decades of very cold Jan and Febs and if the conditions in the seas around us are similar to those seen inland then there must be prolonged deicing of the thousands of wind turbine rotors and blades .
    What happens to that material . presumably glycol based, when it lands in the sea.?
    Perhaps Packham and Attenborough can provide answers, after all they are the protectors of the environment.

    • GeoffB permalink
      February 13, 2021 1:06 pm

      They are using electric heating strips, about 4% energy used operating, its still a problem the further north (south) they are installed. Canada has problems with icing and there are some papers published on the subject. Another nail in the coffin for wind power.

  11. John Halstead permalink
    February 13, 2021 1:14 pm

    Hi John

    I’ll bet China has no intention of becoming carbon neutral, it’s government is totally untrustworthy. They are taking the West for mugs and we are falling into the trap.

    All best, John

  12. February 13, 2021 10:39 pm

    The Chinese at the local level know what they are doing. And, despite perceptions in the West, government in China has always been more local than central.

    The cost of energy to Australian households at $US0.26 /kW hr is three times the $US0.08 in China. Cheap energy is the foundation of human progress and material welfare. If energy is expensive and unreliable the result is impoverishment. But not so for those with inherited means, the aristocracy, the public service, the ABC and an academia that is supported out of the public purse. The income of these groups is buffered.

    Tellingly, according to the ‘United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’ the total of direct foreign investment in China exceeded that in the USA for the first time in pre Covid 2019. There was a substantial fall in investment in climate obsessed Europe. The inflow to China increased by 4% as the inflow to the USA halved.

    Unless society is prepared to arrange for a massive transfer of wealth from those who are alarmed at changes in the climate, to those who have their noses closer to the grindstone, as has occurred to a limited extent during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia, that could produce the worlds cheapest energy, via utilization of its coal reserves, is destined to suffer a collapse in the living standards, first for its shrinking non-public service employee class, and later, everyone.

    There is no substitute for independent thinking, grounded in observation. Is there a politician brave enough to tell the story as it is? The last federal election indicated that its possible. Support came from rural and coal mining areas in Queensland and NSW. Will Her Majesty’s opposition continue to put forward policies that disadvantage its traditional supporters to please the chatterati at the ABC (Invasion Day) and the Australian Financial Review (Green Finance)?

  13. MikeHig permalink
    February 14, 2021 10:26 pm

    Nearly 40 GW of coal power plant capacity – even with the latest “HELE” technology – must emit more CO2 than the UK’s mixed-source fleet does at our typical demand of around 40 GW.
    That is a striking illustration of the futility of our drive to “net zero”.
    Even if our emissions could be cut to zero this year (magic wand, please) it would be cancelled out by this year’s addition to China’s coal fleet.

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