China Still Expanding Coal Power Capacity
China Energy Group, the country’s biggest power generator, will add more than 6 gigawatts (GW) of new ultra-low emission coal-fired capacity this year as it bids to meet growing electricity demand, a senior official with the firm said on Thursday.
The company also expected to build another 5 GW of low-emission capacity next year, Xiao Jianying, the head of the state-run firm’s coal-fired power department, told Reuters.
“China still has quite a big demand for electricity. The government now supports regions with poor wind and solar resources to use coal-fired power … it’s a more practical measure, as gas is still too expensive,” said Xiao.
China Energy operated coal-fired plants with a total capacity of 175 GW at the end of 2018, 77.4% of its total capacity and about 10% of the entire country’s capacity.
Xiao said the company would gradually shut down small and polluting coal-fired power units and replace them with efficient ones, noting that total capacity would continue to increase but at a slower rate of growth.
Of course, some older inefficient capacity will be taken out, but clearly this new capacity will be around for decades to come.
Bear in mind that these are just the figures for China Energy, which accounts for about a tenth of China’s total generation.
According to China Portal, the country as a whole has already added 17 GW of thermal capacity in the first two quarters this year, most of which will be coal-fired. This equates to 1.5% of current thermal capacity: