• China approves 50 GW of coal-fired capacity this year as hydropower generation dwindles

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Reuters has reported on research conducted by Greenpeace which has found that China approved more than 50 GW of coal-fired power generation capacity in the first half of 2023 as it has attempted to plan for additional energy security as drought has reduced hydropower generation.

Although approved generation capacity does not always become installed capacity, and although new capacity may reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing less efficient older capacity, the findings do suggest the potential of a paradox in increasing fossil fuel use and GHG emissions to guard against the effects of climate change. Hydropower generation fell by 22.9% in the first half of this year compared to last, while coal output increased 9% last year and has continued to rise this year (though some of these increases may have been related to reduced economic activity due to covid).

China’s official position on building new coal-fired capacity is that it is to provide back-up to cleaner power generation, and that the country installed 109 GW of renewable capacity in the first half of the year. A government spokesperson has said that the intent is to “strengthen” coal’s supporting role in the energy mix.

Greenpeace’s lead researcher for the report, Gao Yuhe, said that “China’s government has put energy security and energy transition at odds with one another,” and that the country’s “built-in bias to coal” is meaning that insufficient investment in energy storage infrastructure is being made, further locking in the role of coal.