China approved more new coal plants in 2022 than at any time in the previous seven years, despite scientists’ warnings that the world must drastically reduce coal use in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis.
The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Energy Monitor (GEM) presented a new analysis on Monday that came to a similar conclusion. The report showed that China has sanctioned new plants at a rate of two per week for a total of 106 gigawatts (GW) for the year.
According to GEM research analyst Flora Champenois, who was quoted in The Washington Post, the pace at which projects moved from the licensing stage to construction in 2022 was unprecedented. Several projects appeared to sprout, receive permissions, and financing, and start building in a matter of months. The obvious exception to the continuous global reduction in coal plant development is still China.
The fossil fuel most to blame for the climate problem is coal, and according to Climate Analytics, all coal facilities must be shut down completely by 2040 in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, by the end of this decade, coal utilization must be 80% lower than it was in 2010.
But, China’s biggest roadblock to its energy shift is coal. The nation struggles to abandon coal even though it is installing renewable energy at spectacular rates—last year, it added the newest solar capacity ever. Moreover, in 2022, coal outputs broke a record. Furthermore, the foundation created by new ventures is not encouraging.
According to the study, China started construction on 50 GW of coal power in 2022, six times more than the rest of the world and more than 50% higher than in 2021. The allowable coal power capacity of 106 GW was more than four times the 23 GW authorized in 2021.
According to The Washington Post, the increase in coal development is probably a reaction to the global energy crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and domestic energy shortages. According to Reuters, China faced blackouts in September 2021 due to a shortage of coal.
But, the climate catastrophe is partially to blame for China’s energy problems. According to Reuters and the report, for instance, a drought in 2022 will restrict hydropower while more people will use air conditioning to survive more intense heat waves. Coal might be a temporary solution in this situation, but it will ultimately make things worse.
According to The Washington Post, China has promised to begin cutting its coal use in 2026, attain peak emissions by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
According to the report’s authors, if renewable energy capacity keeps growing and energy demand decreases, coal use and electricity emissions in China may not rise as a result of the newly proposed facilities. The new facilities, however, may make it harder for China to achieve its climate targets because doing so would force some of the new plants to basically become stranded assets, which would enrage their owners.
The Authors of The Paper Did Make Suggestions on How China may Meet Its Energy Demands without Constructing More Coal-fired Power Plants:
- Don t sign off on projects that are not needed for grid stability or connecting the grid to renewables.
- Turn to renewables to meet demand.
- Improve the grid s storage capacity, flexibility, and transmissions.
- Improve energy efficiency for air conditioners and new and old buildings.
According to a study, China would approve two new coal plants every week by the year 2022.