China approving new coal-fired power plants at fastest rate since 2015
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Combustion Industry News Editor
The Financial Times has reported that approvals for new coal-fired power plants are at their highest rate in China since 2015, a finding that is being interpreted as a means the country sees to stimulate economic activity in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The total installed capacity of the plants proposed this year comes to 40 GW, while the total approved this year exceeds the amount from 2018 and 2019 combined. Power plant construction is a favoured way of stimulating economic activity for regional and provincial governments, and Christine Shearer, programme director for coal at Global Energy Monitor, told the FT that it “really looks like the provinces are taking the initiative to build a lot of coal plants and the central government is now getting alarmed at how many there are.” While the FT notes that the data suggests that China risks ignoring decarbonisation as a goal of its economic recovery program, another argument is possible – that new, relatively cleaner plants will replace aging, more polluting plants. The counterargument would be that though the new plants might be less polluting, they nevertheless lock emissions in for the 30 or 40 year lifetime of the plant (unless carbon capture and storage is applied).